THE Newport County AFC Academy under-18s’ unbeaten run to the EFL Youth Alliance Merit League 1 title has seen two of the Exiles’ talented teens catch the eye of Premier League scouts.

The academy, which has category four status, stormed to the title at the weekend with a 1-0 win at Gillingham thanks to Momodou Touray’s goal.

Byron Anthony’s team have won seven out of eight games against category three opponents and now have an unassailable 10-point lead in the table with just two games to go.

Former County defender Anthony is quick to praise an outstanding team effort but, alongside Touray, it is two players at either end of the pitch who have stood out.

Striker Rhys Kavanagh has been on trial at Welsh neighbours Swansea City, while Premier League champions Leicester City are taking a look at goalkeeper Rhys Davies this week.

“The boys have all been exceptional,” Anthony told the Argus.

“They’ve taken on board a lot of things we wanted to put in place in pre-season and achieved the targets and goals that we set them.

“We took Swansea all the way in the FAW Youth Cup semi-finals and were seven minutes from penalties.

“And it’s the first time we’ve qualified to play in the Merit League and the boys have won seven out of eight games so far.

“They have all been absolutely magnificent and the only draw we’ve had was when Stevenage scored an 89th-minute equalizer against us.”

The under-18s will be presented with the league trophy at half-time during the first team’s final match of the season against Notts County at Rodney Parade in May 6.

But first Anthony wants them to complete the campaign unbeaten.

“We’ve got two games left – at Exeter this Saturday and at home to Cambridge the week after – and I’ve told the lads I want us to remain unbeaten,” he said.

“It’s a challenge for them and what’s refreshing for me is that they are rising to every challenge at the moment.”

Kavanagh is back with the Young Exiles after playing twice for the Swans academy this month and Davies will return from Leicester in time to play at Exeter on Saturday.

“When I retired I think we got about two or three scouts coming to the youth team games and now it’s 10 or 12,” said Anthony, who took charge of the academy just over a year ago.

“Our target is to produce players for the first team here and we’ve had one or two make the breakthrough but if one or two move on to bigger and better things then it will keep the academy ticking over.

“The cream always rises to the top and Rhys Davies and Rhys Kavanagh have really stood out this year, along with Momodou Touray as well.

“If they do move on it may well go to a tribunal to decide how much compensation we get but it’s a sign of how well they’ve done and what we’ve achieved this season.”

Another County youth made his debut for the Wales under-16s national side in Cyprus yesterday.

Lewis Collins, younger brother of former Exiles first-teamer Aaron, helped the Welsh youngsters to a 4-3 penalty shootout win over the hosts yesterday.

It was the first of three matches for Wales in a UEFA Development Tournament that also features Albania and San Marino.

As well as Davies, Kavanagh, Touray and Collins, the team that won at Gillingham last weekend also included Liam Warman, Liam Angel, Dion Molyneux, Jay Foulston, Evan Press, Finlay Wood, Joe Hunt and substitute Thomas Savigar.

The unused subs were Owen Taylor, Lucas Murray, Laurent Ngunjoah and Thomas Hillman.