With the large volume of players in the Under-18s and Under-21s squads, some players will naturally go under the radar despite putting in consistent performances.
It is no secret that Pedro Lima, Elliot Myles, and Ken Aboh are currently the most exciting prospects at the club – and all the positive energy is centred around them – but in this article, I’m looking at five other players who have delivered positive performances so far this season.
These five will be looking to finish 2023-24 strongly:
Gabriel Keita – U18s CB (17)
After having some exposure to U18s football last season, Keita arrived at the 2023-24 campaign with knowledge of the quality required at this level but he missed the start of the season with injury. His form though has improved with every game.
In these games, Keita has showcased his aerial presence in both boxes, similar to the characteristics Brad Hills demonstrated in this same age group. Keita went through a period in November/December of scoring twice from set pieces; one of those goals being pivotal as it helped earn the U18s their first point of the season. He has also been reliable when defending aerial balls in his own box – the main responsibility of a defender.
Moreover, Gabriel also has a strong physical presence, with a powerful body which will aid him in his development. His strength has also enabled him to be effective in winning defensive one-on-one duels.
His distribution is very good too and his intention to consistently play forwards has been notable across the season, attempting to switch the ball out wide on many occasions. The stats support his willingness to play forwards as he has achieved a forward pass percentage of 77% over the last four games but he will want to improve the accuracy of his forward passes.
Charlie Wilson – U21s CB (18)
As many of you will be aware, Wilson has been fantastic since arriving at the club last spring. His form was at its best during December when he contributed to keeping a clean sheet in every game, excluding the Man City encounter.
Wilson has defended across the season in a composed manner and has been particularly impressive at winning stand tackles – making it hard for attackers to get past him. He barely goes to the ground when attempting to win the ball, highlighting his brilliant defensive discipline.
Charlie Wilson leads the team out against Bournemouth. Credit: @norwichcityfc
He is also a reliable defender from an aerial perspective, with a good understanding of how to get into proactive positions to clear his lines from dangerous crosses. There have been numerous situations over the season where he has been forced into last-ditch challenges, and where his proactive starting position has bailed the team out.
Wilson also displays fantastic leadership for the U21s team, which has been acknowledged by the coaching staff as they named him captain during one of the games earlier in the season.
Jaiden Owen – U18s LB (17)
Similarly to Gabriel Keita, Jaiden spent part of the 2023-24 campaign injured but returned to the team for the FA Youth Cup fixture. There has been some positive news for Owen this season as he earned his first professional contract with the club.
One particular strength of his game is his willingness to create overloads on the left flank. After arriving in those areas, he looks to play low-driven crosses into the box, relying on the movement of his attackers to create a goal from his consistent deliveries.
In addition, he possesses immense speed, which enables him to be a consistent up-and-down threat on the left side – a trait of the game that is compulsory for a modern-day fullback. This also creates a healthy balance on the left flank, as Jaiden tends to hold his width, whereas the left midfielder is advised to invert.
His game is starting to improve from a defensive perspective too, especially during one-on-one situations, where he demonstrates a tendency to get touch-tight to his opponent. This was displayed against Chelsea U18s earlier in the season when he defended well against highly talented winger, Frankie Runham. However, there is no secret that he needs to keep developing from a defensive perspective as that area will need improvement if he is to make the next step in his career. A very exciting talent, nonetheless.
Errol Mundle-Smith U21s ST (17)
After arriving from a college programme in London, Mundle-Smith has delivered a wonderful G/A return, scoring eight times, as well as contributing with three assists this season. He will look to continue his goalscoring form – hoping he can get some appearances with the U21s before the end of the season.
An obvious strength that is evident with his goalscoring numbers this season, is his composure in front of goal. Throughout the games EMS has played during the campaign, he has scored typical striker goals with wonderful levels of calmness. Examples include a well-rounded finish around the keeper away at Man City a couple of days ago, alongside a perfectly executed chip against Arsenal.
Errol will be looking to continue his fine form in 2024. Credit: @norwichcityfc
Adding to that, Errol has showcased his ability to hold up the ball effectively – giving the team a platform to build from. His ball protection was particularly noticeable against Blackburn, in a friendly earlier in the season, where he used the ball efficiently in the final third to create two assists. Mundle-Smith has also applied his technical quality under pressure against defenders with wonderful moments of ball control.
Errol has showcased his composure on the ball, despite being given a tough hand to lead the line for this team, as there’s a heavy emphasis on sitting back and containing the opposition’s attacking threats.
LaSean Sealey – U18 ST (17)
LaSean is another player who’s accumulated 10 G/A this season, despite some of those goals coming at U17s level. A powerful striker, he will be wanting to make an impact from the starting eleven in the second half of the season, as a large proportion of his goals have come off the bench, earning him the ‘super sub’ tag.
On the subject of super subs, Sealey comes into that bracket after recent performances. He has contributed with a goal and assist since November off the bench (at U18s level) but his performances have warranted more. He has two major strengths – his extreme pace and eye-catching physique, which enables him to pin defenders effectively. His cameo in the Youth Cup illustrated his power as he was able to turn sharply and test the goalkeeper on a couple of occasions.
Sealey would have wanted to take his glorious chances in the FA Youth Cup but his composure in front of goal across the first half of the season has generally been good, scoring ‘poacher’ style goals to help gain Norwich points. From the evidence available, Sealey is efficient at picking up goalscoring positions, which allows him a good chance to convert when an opportunity comes his way.
All of these players have shown significant potential, during their respective appearances for the U18s and U21s. The aim for these five will be to now continue with this consistency.