Ashley Williams hailed 'invaluable' for Swansea City

Ashley Williams and Brendan Rodgers
Ashley Williams has been a key player for Brendan Rodgers this season

Brendan Rodgers admits he is certain Swansea City captain Ashley Williams will soon be the subject of a bid by a Premier League title challenger.

But the Swansea manager insists the Wales international defender, who has played every minute of every game this season, is "invaluable" to Swansea.

"I don't know what price you'd put on him," said Rodgers ahead of Saturday's trip to West Bromwich Albion.

"I'm not so sure I'd swap him for many. He's an absolute top, top player."

The centre-back has played virtually every minute of every game since arriving at the Liberty Stadium from Stockport County in 2008.

He is set to extend his remarkable record of appearing in 162 consecutive league games at The Hawthorns on Saturday - against a West Brom club that released Williams at the age of 16.

Williams, who then resurrected his career in the non-league at Hednesford Town, has blocked the highest number of shots (33) in the league this season and only Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has completed more passes than his 1485.

The 27-year-old has been influential in Swansea's impressive debut season in the Premier League as the Welsh side beat Arsenal and were only held to a draw by Chelsea after an own goal deep into injury time.

Williams has helped Rodgers' 14th-placed team keep nine clean sheets as Swansea boast the second tightest home defence in the top-flight, conceding just seven goals - a record that is only bettered by leaders Manchester City.

And Rodgers feels Williams, capped 31 times by Wales, is proving many experts wrong about his defensive abilities in the Premier League.

"He is a top, top player," said the Swans boss.

"He's invaluable. This is a guy that can play football as well as defend.

"A man who I know people looked at and said he wasn't big enough or tall enough to be a centre half at the top level.

"And it's great now at this stage of his career, having worked his way through, that he's proving that.

"Man-of-that-match performances against Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea.

"But the thing is he doesn't just produce performances in the blue chip games, he produces them whenever you've got to dig in.

"He's a wonderful player and thankfully for Swansea and for Wales he's got a lot more good years in him yet."

Former Wales manager John Toshack was quick to realise Williams' talent as he capitalised on the defender's Welsh ancestry to give him his first cap against Luxembourg in March 2008 while he was still playing for Stockport in League Two.

Williams, Wales midfielder Joe Allen and Dutch goalkeeper Michel Vorm have all attracted interest from rival clubs.

But Swansea managed to keep hold of their best players in the transfer window despite beating Arsenal and Aston Villa away and holding Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in January.

England manager Fabio Capello was at the Liberty Stadium to watch Swansea's momentous 3-2 win over Arsenal, where goals from Englishmen Scott Sinclair, Nathan Dyer and Danny Graham secured arguably the most impressive result in the club's history.

"I've got five or six players who could go into any team in this league," insisted Rodgers.

"And any big team - and make them better."

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