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Page last updated at 08:21 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Flynn's fledgling factory

Wales manager John Toshack and Welsh youth coach Brian Flynn

By Peter Shuttleworth

"There's only two Kye/Kai Edwards"

Welsh football fans could soon be able to sing this unique chant as youth guru Brian Flynn may unleash the Edwards boys in his Welsh under-21 side.

Both Cardiff City's Kye and Wrexham's Kai Edwards are defenders, both are also regulars in the Wales under-19 side and almost ready to step up to the most senior of the junior ranks.

Kai, 18, is a Welsh schoolboys captain and has had trials for Aston Villa while 17-year-old Kye is a school year younger but progressing well at Ninian Park's academy.

"It is a big coincidence," acknowledged Flynn.

The Edwards boys are on the verge of a breakthrough as Flynn prepares the latest gems off Welsh football's production line for their European Championship qualification charge.

Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Collison and Ched Evans have already successfully graduated to John Toshack's senior team after the kids of the last generation caught the Welsh manager's eye.

Losing Ramsey, Rhys Williams, Sam Vokes and Owain Fon Williams to Tosh's A-team has not weakened Wales' under-21 side.

Brian Flynn embraces Ched Evans
27 March 2009: Luxembourg v Wales
31 March 2009: Wales v Luxembourg
12 August 2009: Wales v Hungary
4 September 2009: Wales v Italy
10 October 2009: Wales v Bosnia-Herzegovina
18 November 2009: Bosnia-Herzegovina v Wales
4 September 2010: Hungary v Wales
7 September 2010: Italy v Wales

Flynn's fledglings still have the relative experience of Cardiff City full-back Darcy Blake and midfield duo Joe Allen and Andy King, who have both played key roles in Swansea's and Leicester's successes this season.

Flynn's conveyer belt of talent is now almost as renowned as Welsh rugby's mythical fly-half factory and new names such as Chelsea goalkeeper Rhys Taylor, Everton striker Nathan Craig and Bristol City centre-back James Wilson.

The young ones have much to live up to as Wales' under-21 achievements of topping their qualification group in the last campaign is unprecedented, and their aggregate play-off defeat to England earned plaudits.

Yet, unlike their senior colleagues, success is not measured in qualifying for major finals but pushing players to Toshack's team.

The 11 who moved up to big school are proof that Flynn is doing an important job in Welsh football.

"The flow will continue," insisted Flynn.

"There are some very good players in the system that are either entering the under-21 set-up either this campaign or next.

"But the massive incentive is that Tosh is willing to give them a pathway into the senior team.

"Aaron Ramsey and Jack Collison are the latest to move up to the senior squad and that's a great spur for the kids coming through.

"The future of Welsh football, I promise, is looking good."

Five Flynn fledglings to watch:

Rhys Taylow


Date of birth: 7 April, 1990

Flynnie's verdict:
Rhys is at a great club and learning from Petr Cech, the best goalkeeper in the world. He has been in the Chelsea reserve team and may get a first team chance at Stamford Bridge now Carlo Cudicini has joined Tottenham Hotspur.

Rhys is a very composed keeper, he doesn't flap at crosses and at 6ft 3ins commands his box well. He is very quick, alert and is a good shot-stopper.

I've known Rhys since he was 12 and I've watched his career blossom, he has done brilliantly for the under-17s and under-19s and maybe now to accelerate his career and build on his progress he might look to go out on loan at a lower league club.

Although Rhys withdrew from this first squad due to injury, he has a big future for the under-21s and Wales.

Joe Partington


AFC Bournemouth
Date of birth: 1 April, 1990

Flynnie's verdict:
Joe has done brilliantly for Bournemouth this season in difficult circumstances and his mature performances have helped them overturn a 17-point deduction and give them a shot at safety.

The 6ft 3ins 18-year-old is a tall, athletic, box-to-box midfielder who is a very astute passer of the ball and has a lovely footballing brain.

He can do most things in midfield and could play as both a defensive and attacking midfielder and loves to get into the box and has scored plenty of goals at under-19 level.

Joe, like has many in this group, has great mental strength and comes off the same production line as Wales senior striker Sam Vokes. He also withdrew from this squad but you will see a lot of Joe in this qualifying campaign.

James Wilson


Bristol City
Date of birth: 26 February, 1989

Flynnie's verdict:
James is a quick, very dynamic centre-back that normally plays on the right of a central defensive pair. At 6ft 3ins, he is excellent in the air but is a ruthless defender that will not take any messing about.

James is coming on well and his loan to Brentford did him the world of good and accelerated his progress development.

Gary Johnson, the Bristol City manager, is extremely happy with his progress despite the 20-year-old not playing at all for Bristol City and James is pushing hard.

Joe Allen


Swansea City
Date of birth: 14 March, 1990

Flynnie's verdict:
Joe has been excellent for Swansea City since being handed an opening following Ferrie Bodde's injury.

The fact Swansea have maintained their high level of performances in both league and FA Cup is a credit to a young man that had never played Championship football.

Joe epitomises what we want in our under-21 players as when you get a chance in the first-team, you keep it.

Joe is a wonderful footballer, with a mature brain, a great passer and mover who can do most things in midfield.

He always seems to have time on the ball, which is a tell-tale sign of a good player. But he also has another side; he's physical and can tackle and will break into the Wales senior side soon if he continues the pace of his development.

Neil Taylor


Date of birth: 7 February, 1989

Flynnie's verdict:
We have very high hopes for Neil Taylor and he has been Dean Saunders' captain at Wrexham.

Neil is great at bombing forward and assisting with attacks but he is a very good defender and in one-on-one situations he rarely gets beaten.

With Gareth Bale, Sam Ricketts and Neal Eardley also potential left-backs, Neil has huge competition at left-back which will be great for his development and push him to become a top player.

He has an old head on young shoulders and is getting a good grounding at Wrexham in non-league which will stand him in good stead.

Wales Under-21 squad to play Luxembourg in Ettelbruck on 27 March and in Llanelli on 31 March:
Goalkeepers: Jonathan North (Watford), Chris Maxwell (Wrexham)

Defenders: Darcy Blake (Cardiff City), James Wilson (Bristol City), Lloyd James (Southampton), Aaron Morris (Cardiff City), Neil Taylor (Wrexham), Grant Basey (Charlton Athletic)

Midfielders: Mark Bradley (Walsall), Joe Allen (Swansea City), Andy King (Leicester City), Shaun MacDonald (Swansea City), James Bloom (Cardiff City), Casey Thomas (Swansea City), Ashley Richards (Swansea City)

Strikers: Nathan Craig (Everton), Simon Church (Leyton Orient), Jonathan Brown (Wrexham), Jake Taylor (Reading)

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