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Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 14:47 UK

Children of Flynn's revolution

By Peter Shuttleworth

John Toshack's end-of-season friendlies are anything but meaningless, they're the dawn of a new era for Welsh football.

BRIAN FLYNN
Brian Flynn
Born: 12 October, 1955 in Port Talbot
Position: Midfielder
Clubs managed: Wrexham, Swansea City
Clubs played for: Burnley, Leeds United, Burnley, Cardiff City, Doncaster Rovers, Bury, Doncaster Rovers, Wrexham
Wales honours: 66 caps (7 goals)
Did you know? Flynn's 12 years at Wrexham makes him one of the longest serving managers in recent history

The seed of Wales' new breed are making their long-awaited senior international bows during the summer double-header in Iceland and The Netherlands.

Coach Toshack's highly-rated rookies have courted great interest, from Premier League managers in particular, during young Wales' impressive under-21 campaign.

West Ham United midfielder Jack Collison, Cardiff City playmaker Aaron Ramsey, Manchester City striker Ched Evans and Wolves new boy Sam Vokes have been tipped as potential Premier League superstars.

But this week a quartet of quality teenagers will join Gareth Bale, Chris Gunter, Wayne Hennessey and Neal Eardley as fully fledged internationals - as the Welsh public finally see what all of the fuss is about.

Tosh will unleash his top tots on the world as the former Real Madrid manager prepares for Wales' forthcoming World Cup 2010 qualifying campaign.

But the veteran boss laid the groundwork long ago when he appointed Brian Flynn as Welsh youth guru, a managerial masterstroke that has transformed a host of rough diamonds into Welsh football's crown jewels.

"It hasn't happened overnight but we've worked hard to make this one of the most exciting times in Welsh football," said the former Wales captain.

"We've got a great bunch coming through but the key to their development has been the need for clarity; just one concise opinion, good or bad, as the last thing youngsters need is confusion."

Toshack's first job as Wales manager in 2004 was to announce Flynn as the man to oversee the crucial development of Wales' youngsters as the national team began a transitional period in the wake of a spate of international retirements.

"Welsh football lost Gary Speed, Mark Pembridge, John Hartson and Andy Melville and had nowhere else to go apart from back to the grassroots," said Flynn.

"Our medium to long term success depended on how I did in the role."

It was arguably the greatest appointment in Welsh football for an age.

Within four years of Flynn's arrival, the Wales squad already boasts 14 players aged 21 years or under.

Ramsey, Bale, Ledley, Hennessey are already worth 5m-plus while under Flynn's guidance and know-how, Collison and Evans are two of the young guns expected to take the Premier League by storm.

606: DEBATE

"Every master plan needs a good architect," said Flynn.

"And in football terms, there's no greater mastermind than Tosh.

"We know the last five World Cup winners have an average age of 28.

"But by the time Hennessey, Bale, Ramsey, Gunter, Ledley etc are 25, they'd have won 50 or 60 caps.

"This is an exciting new era in Welsh football but patience is needed by everyone because youngsters naturally make more mistakes than experienced players.

"But seeing them make their senior international debuts will be an immensely proud moment for me but they should be more proud of themselves. They'll all remember that first Wales cap for the rest of their lives.

"My role is very rewarding as there's nothing better than helping hungry young players improve."

Flynn is with the senior squad this week to ensure a comfortable transition into the senior squad for his fledglings

"They've deserved their chance," said Flynn. "Hopefully they can ensure a very bright future for Welsh football."


FLYNNIE'S FLEDGLINGS

Darcy Blake
DARCY BLAKE
Position: Full-back
Club: Cardiff City
Flynn's verdict: Darcy has had a massive influence in the recent success of the Welsh Under-21s team. The jury is out on what will ultimately be his best position but I think the 19-year-old is a brilliant right-back that loves to bomb forward and help our attacks.

Jack Collison
JACK COLLISON
Position: Midfielder
Club: West Ham United
Flynn's verdict: Jack is the latest off West Ham's 'Academy of Football' production line and due to his position he has been compared to Frank Lampard but he's more a Michael Carrick. The 19-year-old is a tall, elegant ball-player that doesn't complicate play and has an eye for a goal. A creative footballer that will be a star for club and country.

Neal Eardley
NEAL EARDLEY
Position: Full-back
Club: Oldham Athletic
Flynn's verdict:
A sign of Neal's growing maturity is his captaincy of Oldham this season and that is no mean feat. The 19-year-old is a talented full-back, a good defender with a good footballing brain who has been linked with Liverpool and it wouldn't surprise me if he did earn himself a move to the Premier League.

Ched Evans
CHED EVANS
Position: Striker
Club: Manchester City
Flynn's verdict:
Ched is a great team player, an excellent finisher and a clever player. He'll play on the defender's shoulder of he'll drop off and create space. Ched has won himself a new Manchester City contract and if he's given a chance in the Premier League, I'm convinced he'll take it.

Chris Gunter
CHRIS GUNTER
Position: Full-back
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Flynn's verdict:
Chris is a very clever defender. He has great pace and has the ability and nous to be able to play can right across the back-line; right, left and centre. With Chris' ability, his versatility will ensure he'll be a star for Wales for many years. Only time will tell which position he'll hold down.

Wayne Hennessey
WAYNE HENNESSEY
Position: Goalkeeper
Club: Wolverhampton Wanderers
Flynn's verdict:
Wayne has gone a long way to establishing himself as Wales' number one goalkeeper. He's tall, agile, deals with crosses and commands his area well and is a good communicator. Another that has been linked with a Premier League move and he has all the attributes to make it.

Aaron Ramsey
AARON RAMSEY
Position: Midfielder
Club: Cardiff City
Flynn's verdict :
All the interest in Ramsey is no surprise to me, the one word I'd use for him is sensational and I don't use that word lightly. He has everything - temperament, attitude, ability, work-ethic - to be a top Premier League and international player for the next 15 years. No wonder Sir Alex Ferguson likes the look of him, he's a special talent.

Sam Vokes
SAM VOKES
Position: Striker
Club: Wolverhampton Wanderers
Flynn's verdict:
Sam is an out-and-out traditional number nine. He's a 6ft 2ins centre-forward that loves the physical side of the game. His link-up play and awareness is improving but a lovely finisher who has built up a good partnership with Ched Evans.


see also
Saunders hails Welsh youth push
16 May 08 |  Internationals
Vokes unfazed by big club scouts
24 Mar 08 |  Bournemouth
Flynn relishing Wales youth role
06 Dec 04 |  Internationals


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