Ashley Williams: Wales manager Chris Coleman defends captain from critics

Ashley Williams won his 75th cap in the 1-0 loss to Republic of Ireland that ended Wales' World Cup hopes
Ashley Williams won his 75th cap in the 1-0 defeat by Republic of Ireland that ended Wales' World Cup hopes
International friendly: France v Wales
Venue: Stade de France, Saint-Denis Date: Friday, 10 November Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Wales manager Chris Coleman has backed out-of-form captain Ashley Williams.

The 33-year-old centre-back has been criticised for recent performances by both Wales and Everton fans, and was dropped to the bench for his club's 3-2 win over Watford on Sunday.

Coleman is expected to start Williams in Friday's friendly with France and against Panama four days later.

"If you play long enough and play enough games you are going to have a bad patch," Coleman said.

"Your character is what makes you stronger and there is no doubt in my mind he will come through it.

"Look where Everton are, they need fighters and they have got one in him for sure."

Williams, who has 75 caps, angered some Wales supporters when he headed straight down the tunnel after the 1-0 defeat by the Republic of Ireland that ended Wales' 2018 World Cup qualification chances.

But Coleman - who will resume contract talks with the Football Association of Wales after the two friendlies - says that reaction was down to devastation rather than disrespect.

Wales boss Chris Coleman made Ashley Williams his captain in October 2012
Wales boss Chris Coleman made Ashley Williams his captain in October 2012

"He was absolutely crushed because I think he felt like me after that Republic game, that we are never going to get to a World Cup," Coleman said.

"He looks at it as if he was involved with the goal because of his mistake, but my words to him were 'that is one [mistake]'.

"You look at that in isolation, but we had 10 games where he has been a rock again.

"He came off the pitch and he was inconsolable - he was a broken man and in another place.

"But Ash would never ever show disrespect. He would be the last person to do that because he knows the importance of having the whole nation behind him as the captain of the team."

If Coleman agrees a new deal to continue as Wales boss, he expects to still have Williams as a key member of his squad.

"There may be a change in his heart where he will want to do two more campaigns but he will want to do one more campaign probably," Coleman added.

"He is a captain for a reason; he never misses games or training and has a real appetite for football."

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