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Joker Jonny Aims To Be Part Of The Wales Pack Again Next Summer . . . By Coming Up Trumps With Charlton

By Ben Phillips

Jonny Williams is hoping his one-year contract extension with Charlton Athletic can trigger more glory at the delayed European Championship finals next summer.

The Wales midfielder – who was Chris Coleman’s occasional joker in the pack for the national team four years ago – has opted to extend his time with his current club.

The 26-year-old was unable to stop Charlton going straight back down from the Sky Bet Championship last month – a year after he helped the Addicks into the second tier with promotion via the League One play-offs.

Williams played 27 times for Charlton in all competitions last term to put previous shoulder issues behind him.

Now, his focus is on doing enough in League One to convince Wales manager Ryan Giggs he should remain in his plans even though he has slipped into the third tier.

“I have played just under 30 games so it has been a good season for me,” says Williams.

“I know a Wales camp is just around the corner so I will be looking to hopefully be in the squad.”

With injury woes seemingly behind him, the midfielder craves to experience another major tournament.

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“After the experience at the last Euros, I still get people asking me how it was,” Williams revealed.

“It’s one of those things you never think you will experience as a footballer, to go to a major tournament.

“To have the opportunity to do it all over again is massive and the main thing is to put myself in a position to go and then it’s obviously up to the staff. As long as I am playing and I am fit, I’ll have no regrets.

“I’ve loved my time at Charlton, I feel at home here and I’m looking forward to hopefully having a good season next year and doing what we can to get the team back to the Championship.”

Williams’ career has mirrored a roller coaster but he is determined to enjoy another high with Wales next summer.

He featured in Charlton’s Wembley win against old club Sunderland in May 2019 after he had spent the 2017-18 campaign on loan with the Black Cats, who went on to suffer relegation.

“My main aim now is to put myself in the best position to get in a Wales shirt on a frequent basis because I had missed doing that when I missed a couple of years.

“To be back playing under Ryan Giggs last year was amazing and it is the pinnacle of every player’s career to play at the top, top level. I want to make sure I am in a good position to make sure I am recognised.”

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When Williams returned to the Wales set-up in September, it was the first time he had been called up by former Manchester United winger Giggs.

A cameo against Azerbaijan was his first international appearance since the Euro 2016 semi-final defeat to Portugal and he started in a friendly against Belarus days later.

More good form for Charlton saw Williams summoned again for key qualifiers with Slovakia and Croatia in October and he was trusted from the off in both fixtures and helped his country secure consecutive 1-1 draws.

“I didn’t expect to be starting those massive games and I have played in big games in a Wales shirt but they were very important in the end to get the two draws against two top teams to qualify,” Williams added.

“Just being back, there was a point in my career a couple of years ago where I wondered if I would ever be back in a Wales shirt and to play under Giggs, who was an absolute legend, was a bit surreal.

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“For him to show that belief to put me in the starting XI and then for me to play well gives me a bit of self-belief that I have still got it and it is just about having that belief.”

Knee surgery saw Williams miss out on Wales’ crucial group fixtures against Azerbaijan and Hungary in November but he linked up with the squad to watch them secure a place at Euro 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic saw the tournament put back by 12 months and the versatile midfielder is eager to ensure his career continues on an upward trajectory by staying fit this season.

 

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