Giggs eyeing Aussie Williams for Wales

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Wales are considering a swoop to lure Australian winger Ryan Williams into swapping his international allegiance.

Earlier this month Wales boss Ryan Giggs was at a Rotherham United game to watch Englishman Will Vaulks and Perth-born Williams, as he prepares his squad for Euro 2020.

Williams, the younger brother of Socceroo Rhys, is eligible for the Dragons through heritage.

Last week Vaulks, who qualifies for Wales through his mother, made his international debut for Giggs’ team in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago. Williams has played 15 times for the Young Socceroos and the Olyroos, but has never earned a cap for the senior national team.

The 25-year-old, who has spent the past nine years playing in England after leaving Western Australia as a teenager, has been on the radar for the Socceroos for a while but missed out on selection for the 2019 Asian Cup.

The Rotherham United attacker’s definite preference is to represent Australia, but admits Wales’ interest has piqued his attention and hopes it may even serve as a catalyst to put him on Socceroos boss Graham Arnold's radar. 

“It was strange that,” Williams told The World Game.

“Giggs was at the game the other day watching one of the other boys Will, who played last week for Wales. And it kind of popped up (about me playing for Wales) and I thought oh… I kind of don’t know how I’d feel about that.

“But if it made Australia get into gear and give me a shout then I don’t know… But I don’t think I’d ever play for Wales to be honest. It would be awesome, but it’s just not Australia.

“Australia is where I was brought up. The green and gold, I’ve always dreamed of playing for Australia.

“I think if I was to play for Wales it would just be because Bale and Ramsay are there, it would just feel like another team… but [on the other hand] the good thing would be you don’t have to travel as far as well, which can hinder you [with your club] sometimes.

“Obviously the dream was to play international football. We’ll just have to wait and see with who that is with.”

Williams has carved out a successful career in the UK after debuting at the age of just 17 in the Championship for Portsmouth. The number 10 spent three years with Fulham, impressing while on loan to Oxford United and Barnsley, before a permanent move to the Reds in 2015.

After battling injury issues at Barsnley, Williams fully recovered and moved to neighbours Rotherham in 2017. At the New York Stadium he has thrived under the coaching of Paul Warne, helping the Millers achieve promotion into the Championship last year with a special playoff win at Wembley.

This season Rotherham are battling relegation, but the ECU Joondalup junior has been a regular in the club’s first-team. Williams has made 33 appearances in all competitions, scoring one goal and notching three assists, and featured in a variety of different positions.

Breaking into the Socceroo set-up and following in the footsteps of his older brother Rhys, who has 14 caps for Australia, remains a clear target.

“It is a goal but I haven’t kind of made that little extra bit,” Williams admits.

“To be fair, just because I’m playing in the Championship doesn’t mean I should be playing for the Socceroos – not at all. Chris Ikonomidis, when he got called up he’d been scoring goals.

“You pick players on form and at that time he’d been scoring and assisting, he was through the roof in confidence. At the time I was through the roof in confidence but I wasn’t scoring goals."

Williams was close to Socceroo selection late last year, when he was in contact with head coach Graham Arnold and his assistant Rene Meulensteen. The forward hopes his versatility across the forward line and midfield can help earn him an opportunity in the future.

“I hope so. I spoke to Rene, I had a chat to him and said my favourite position is number 10,” he said.

“Whether I should have said it was a different position to try and get into the national team is a bit different! But I said I like playing number 10, I like getting the ball between the lines and driving through and trying to pick out passes.

“But I also play off the left or the right. I’ve played on the left, on the right, centre mid and number 10 this season. During the games as well I have been going into wing-back at times too, so maybe that shows the confidence the manager has in me.”