Williams playing long game on route to Socceroos recognition

Rotherham's Australian winger Ryan Williams Source: Getty Images

His name never figured in Bert van Marwijk’s World Cup calculations - but Australian attacker Ryan Williams is banking on promotion to the Championship propelling him into AFC Asian Cup contention.

The former Olyroo is just one game away from a League One play-off final against Shrewsbury at Wembley later this month.

And the uncapped 24-year-old flier views a Socceroos breakthrough as the next logical next step in his career trajectory.

But first there’s the obstacle of Scunthorpe United to be overcome in Thursday’s (AEST) play-off second leg, with Williams’ Rotherham heading on to home turf at the New York Stadium with the tie poised at 2-2.

The Millers are looking to boomerang straight back to English football’s second tier after last year’s relegation woes.

And Williams - who took out man of the match honours in the first leg - has been a big part of their resurgence, with eight assists and four goals from his 43 league appearances.

“There’s still a lot of work to do but we’re determined to finish off what we’ve started this season,” said the winger who arrived from Barnsley determined to put two injury scarred seasons behind him at his new home.

“Obviously going up was always the goal having had a taste of the Championship with Barnsley

“It would mean so much to the town and the fans, especially after the disappointment of last season,” 

The brother of Melbourne Victory defender and fellow Socceroos aspirant Rhys Williams, Ryan felt a move into the Championship would put him in the sights of national team selectors.

“I’ve not really considered myself a big candidate for the World Cup (playing in the third tier) but I think going back up a level would put me in contention, and I’d live to be a part of Graham Arnold’s plans for the Asian Cup (in UAE in January)," he said.

“I think there’s something I can offer the Socceroos but just have to keep knocking on the door and hopefully my chance will come.”

The key for Williams, who has a year left on his Millers deal, has been an injury-free season. 

It has allowed him to flourish playing on either the left or right wing under coach Paul Warne as Rotherham became the division’s third top scorers on the way to finishing fourth.

“Staying free from injury and getting the consistency has been the key for me,” added Williams.

“It’s given me a platform to build from after a couple of really stop-start years.”

His former Olyroos roommate, defender Cameron Burgess is part of the opposition.

But Burgess didn’t make the starting line up in the first leg, and isn’t expected to get the nod for the return either.

“We’ve known each other for years, from growing up in Perth

playing junior football at ECU Joondalup,” said Williams.

“We were also at Fulham together. I hope he plays against us but Scunthorpe don’t tend to make too many changes.”

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