Bristol City midfielder Andy King admitted his surprise that young talent Omar Taylor-Clarke wasn’t included in Wales’ Under-21’s squad for their upcoming match, and set the midfielder an interesting challenge.
Taylor-Clarke has made several cameo appearances for the Robins of late, including against Manchester City in their fifth-round FA Cup defeat.
The teenager has been training with the first team since the World Cup break, and King revealed his shock at the news that the youngster didn’t make it into Matt Jones’ squad for their match against Scotland Under-21’s on Sunday, March 26.
“I’m a little bit surprised actually, I'm going to speak to him… He came on the other day (against Blackpool), and he came on against Man City. I said to him, are you in Wales Under-21’s squad? Which he wasn’t. I don’t name the squad, and I'm not saying they’ve made a wrong decision or anything, but I'm sure in the future he’ll definitely get that recognition.
“At senior level, there’s a bit of a changing of the guard, a few lads have retired and by no means am I implying that he should be in the senior squad, Wales are a good nation these days. But in terms of U-21s he should definitely set his standard there and that’s something that hopefully in the next few months he can achieve.”
King has taken on a different role this season, as a player-coach. While retaining his responsibilities as a key member of Nigel Pearson’s side, the midfielder has spent time coaching the Robins’ Under-23 side as well as the Under-16’s.
Taylor-Clarke has been one of several young talents at the club that have caught King’s eye, and the 34-year-old revealed a target that he has set the up-and-coming talent to reach.
“Where he is right now, in and around the first team, I'm sure there are not many lads playing for Wales U-21s who are regularly involved in first-team football. I might be wrong, but from what I've seen from Omar, he can definitely go on and achieve that. I’ve spoken to him about setting that as one of his goals and hopefully, by the end of the season, he’ll be able to achieve it.”
Taylor-Clarke is highly rated at BS3, as the never-ending conveyer belt of the Robins’ academy continues to produce talented players.
The young midfielder’s performances have helped guide the young Robins to the top of the Under-23 Professional Development League, but it is Taylor-Clarke’s temperament off the pitch that has impressed King the most.
“He’s done well, he’s got good energy, what I said before about the temperament of a younger lad, he’s come in and shown he wants to work and I think that’s what git him as far as he has come so far. He’s shown that attitude to be willing to listen, to learn from the coaches, to learn from the other players and to give his absolute best.
“He’s always 100%, whether it be training, or games, he gives everything he’s got and that can take you a long way on top of the talent that all the lads have. A lot of it comes down to desire and wanting to work, and Omar has definitely got that.”