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Ashley Williams Bids To Show Swans – And Wales – What They’re Missing

Ashley Williams can remind Wales fans he still has plenty to offer Ryan Giggs when he returns to Swansea City tonight.

The Wales captain – who has lost his starting place for the national side after also struggling to be selected at club level – is poised to lead a  Stoke City trio of former Swans players at the Liberty Stadium.

Joe Allen and Sam Clucas could also feature for the visitors as Graham Potter’s side bid to make it three successive victories and keep alive their outside hopes of reaching the play-offs.

After leading Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and throughout the unsuccessful qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup, Williams found himself on the bench against Slovakia last month when the qualifiers began for Euro 2020.

His absence reflected his recent struggles at club level. Having gone on loan from Everton to Stoke, the 34-year-old last began a game on February 2.

But an injury to Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross means Williams is likely to come in for the visitors at the club where he played 350 times between 2008 and 2016.

Williams came on as a second-half substitute during Stoke’s 1-0 win at Blackburn at the weekend and their Welsh manager Nathan Jones said: “Squad players train hard and if they don’t it shows when they come in.

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“If you’ve got 11 unbelievable players, but the squad doesn’t buy into what you want to do, doesn’t have a humility and aren’t ready to come in, then you won’t achieve anything because no-one keeps 11 players fit.

“Ashley showed real humility, trained well and yes, is a real fans’ favourite at Swansea – and so is Joe Allen and Sam Clucas, three players that did really well there.”

It will be Jones’ first return to Wales since he left Luton, although the Rhondda-born former Brighton and Yeovil defender has admitted his affections are more towards Cardiff City than the Swans.

“It will be nice to go back to a wonderful stadium, although I’m a bit of a Cardiff fan myself. But I don’t want that publicised too much because I could get hammered!

“Swansea are building something good there with a manager (Graham Potter) with a good track record of developing at a level that’s not quite the Championship and that sometimes is a different mindset, similar to myself.”

Swansea are hopeful that Daniel James, Bersant Celina and Wayne Routledge recover from knocks picked up during the weekend victory over Middlesbrough.

A victory for Potter’s side could narrow the nine-point gap between themselves and sixth place, depending on other results with five other games taking place in the Championship.

Potter said: “At the start of the season they were nearly everyone’s clear favourites (for promotion) because they kept a lot of their team and added players as well.

“It doesn’t mean you’re going to have success, despite spending money. It’s about the team and what you produce on the pitch.

“They made a (managerial) change. I’m sure Nathan (Jones) will have time to put his own mark, but he probably needs a window or two to be able to really see what he’s got to do.

“It’s a good club, they’ve got good players and the ambition is there.”


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