WITH the January transfer window in full swing, DAFYDD JONES argues English Football League clubs are missing a trick by not scouting prospects in the Cymru Premier…
THE January transfer market certainly has a cut-throat, competitive nature, as clubs are in search of a game-changing signing to make all the difference in the second half of the campaign.
For Football League and National League clubs, the most common cause of action is testing their luck on a free agent or putting their trust in a young prospect from a Premier League academy, who has little to no experience of the men’s game.
However, a player like Lincoln City’s Remy Howarth is a very recent example of how clubs can and should think outside the box to find a hidden gem.
This time last year, Howarth was plying his trade at the Rock for Cymru Premier outfit Cefn Druids, impressing in Wales’ top flight to earn a move to League One last summer.
The winger has since made an impression after making the step-up, scoring his first goal for the Imps against Shrewsbury Town in December.
But Howarth’s case of a Cymru Premier player being given an opportunity at a higher level is unfortunately quite uncommon.
When Connah’s Quay Nomads caused an upset last season by remarkably winning the Cymru Premier, how many of their title-winning players were signed by clubs at a higher level? None.
Former The New Saints defender Connell Rawlinson went as far to say that there is a “stigma” surrounding the Cymru Premier, with Football League clubs just “sticking to what they know.”
But why should a Football League club take a punt on a player in the Cymru Premier?
Firstly, as discussed, clubs looking for answers in the transfer market most commonly look to Premier League academies for loanees who have only experienced youth level football, not playing a minute of the men’s game.
Compare that to the experience of a Cymru Premier player and the difference is night and day.
When speaking to defender Rawlinson, he referred to the Cymru Premier as a “man’s league”. Wales’ top flight is physically challenging every week.
This means that players are far more physically prepared for the Football League than a loanee academy player or a journeyman short of playing time.
While physicality and fitness are important, especially in the British game, the most paramount attribute of all is undoubtedly talent.
Despite the common view of the outsider that the Cymru Premier is lacking in this department, those who watch Welsh football will know that the league has had some quality players over the years.
Take the likes of Scott Quigley, formerly of the The New Saints and Christian Doidge, who played for Barry Town.
Quigley is at the peak of his powers in League Two for Barrow, while Hibernian’s Doidge is on the cusp of a Wales call-up.
These talented strikers are just two examples of Cymru Premier players, who, when in the rare case of being given an opportunity, have blossomed at a higher level.
Wales’ top flight currently has an array of players who have the potential to succeed in the Football League.
Barry Town’s Evan Press is the Linnets’ leader at just 20 years of age and impresses on a weekly basis for Gavin Chesterfield’s side.
The New Saints’ Leo Smith, not given a fair opportunity by Wrexham before his release, has become one of the stand-out players in the league with his directness and creativity and is another who should be playing at a higher level.
With Football League clubs looking for solutions in the transfer market this month, giving an opportunity to a talented player in the Cymru Premier like the aforementioned, should be a more common answer.