Season in review 2019-20 | Swansea City U23s and U18s

18th June 2020
Jon Grey and Martin Davies

The 2019-20 season may have ended prematurely due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, but it was one of significant progress and transition for Swansea City’s under-23s squad.

For the first half of the campaign, the fortunes of the development side were overseen by Cameron Toshack and Gary Richards, before their departure to Cypriot side Pafos FC in mid-December.

Academy head of coaching Jon Grey stepped into the role in an interim capacity, with under-16s coach Matty Jones serving as his assistant.

Over 40 players were utilised during the season by the development side, who recorded an eighth-place finish on their return to Premier League 2 Division Two, including 12 scholars as well as 15-year-old midfielders Josh Edwards and Joel Cotterill.

First-year professionals Cameron Evans, Daniel Williams and Mason Jones-Thomas all took their appearance tallies into double figures, with Evans missing just a single game all season.

There were also first-team debuts for academy graduates Ben Cabango, Jordon Garrick, Kees de Boer, Jack Evans and Tivonge Rushesha during the earlier rounds of the Carabao Cup.

Evans and Rushesha were among five players to earn new contracts with the Swans during the season, as well as Josh Gould, Brandon Cooper and Liam Cullen.

Liam Cullen

Like the previous season, Cullen was the under-23s’ leading marksman, netting an impressive 17 goals in just 21 appearances, including his first hat-trick for the development side in the 5-1 win over Middlesbrough.

His exploits were recognised as he landed the Premier League 2 Player of the Month award for January, shortly before stepping up to Steve Cooper’s first-team squad on a permanent basis.

Cullen also scored seven times during the development side’s run to the Premier League International Cup quarter-finals, including all four in the thumping 4-0 victory over reigning league-and-cup double winners Everton.

Earlier in the competition, they put two-time champions Porto to the sword 5-1 – a game in which Oli Cooper scored a hat-trick – while holding former finalists PSV Eindhoven to a creditable 1-1 draw.

However, there was to be no such joy in the Premier League Cup, where the Swans bowed out in the group stages.

But results aside, the competition was still a hugely productive one for the Swans, who utilised a total of 32 players across their five games.

Eight of them were handed debuts at under-23 level in the tournament, including Ali Al-Hamadi, Ben Erickson, Lewis Webb and Will Rickard.

Ali Al-Hamadi

Away from the Swans, defender Joe Lewis and midfielder Tom Price enjoyed productive loan spells at Torquay United and Aberystwyth Town respectively.

Meanwhile, Jack Evans had a brief stint at Mansfield Town, Brandon Cooper spent time at Yeovil Town and Cameron Berry linked up with former Swansea midfielder Kris O’Leary at Carmarthen Town.

Despite a difficult season in Premier League South, there was also plenty of rotation on the pitch for the under-18s.

There was regular playing time for first-year scholars Josh Thomas, Scott Butler, Erick Kenko and Morgan Clarke – all of whom also went on to appear for the under-23s during the season.

Several members of the under-15s and under-16s squads were also handed opportunities to impress, including Edwards, Cotterill, defender Kai Ludvigsen and goalkeeper Tyler Evans.

In terms of player development, it was another hugely productive season as those hoping to one day make their mark at first-team level made valuable strides in their respective progressions.