BY MAX HALL
Wales match-winner Jonny Williams said he had sent a message to Lee Bowyer with his 85th-minute goal for his country in Bulgaria but added, the Charlton manager was right to demand he contribute more goals.
Speaking in Sofia after his goals secured Wales a vital 1-0 Nations League victory last night, Williams said: “I haven’t scored enough goals; I’ve always been a player to do so much more than that, I feel, and that’s why I’m still playing at the level I am today, and being effective at what I do – to get up the pitch and dribble with the ball and win Gareth [Bale] a lot of fouls!
“My strengths are travelling with the ball and getting the team up the pitch but of course I’d like to contribute more with goals. I got a few assists last year.”
After making only two starts for Charlton this season, and with Bowyer having called for his midfielder to contribute more in the final third, Williams said: “I haven’t been playing as much as I wanted at club level so, to come away [with Wales] and the manager believes in me, and lets me play with confidence … I feel great.”
In terms of his attacking play, Williams said: “I’ve been working hard on getting into more [attacking] positions. I’d like to score more goals and I put myself in a position to do that.”
Williams came off the bench in Sofia with the game goalless after 72 minutes and supplied a superb finish from a tight angle to convert a cross from Liverpool wing-back Neco Williams. The change, by Wales manager Ryan Giggs involved a Charlton double substitution with Addicks midfielder Dylan Levitt – on loan from Manchester United – coming on along with the golascorer as former Charlton loan midfielder Matt Smith left the field.
Former Palace player Williams spoke of his delight at scoring his first goal after an injury-hit senior career.
“I’m glad of the opportunities I’ve had since I’ve been back fit,” said the midfielder. “There was a time when I wondered whether I’d be back in a Wales shirt, a couple of years ago … I thank all the fans who’ve believed in me and supported me still, even with all the setbacks I’ve had in my career. It’s an amazing feeling to score my first goal [for Wales].
“It’s been such a rollercoaster for me; I’ve had so many highs in a Wales shirt. At club level, I’ve been knocked back so many time: not being fit or [being] on loan numerous times or not really given a chance – I’m not sure why … I’ve been fit for a while now and I’ve just got to keep building and look after myself and look after myself, on and off the pitch, and doing what I’m good at.”
Giggs was quick to praise his goalscoring midfielder after bringing him on to replace Liverpool’s Harry Wilson in the ‘false nine’ role in Sofia.
“Jonny’s one of them players who can come on, with his dribbles and attracting players to the ball. He’s one of those players who is an impact player – of course he can start as well.
“He’s a fantastic talent. He’s someone who, from the middle of the park, can take players on, which is not easy to defend [against], you don’t get that very often … players who drop a little back there. I thought, with that false nine we were playing … that him and Harry are perfect for that role because they can drop in, get the ball [be] comfortable on the ball and be that extra midfielder or also, they can get in the box and create chances and make things happen as well.
“He’s someone who brings a smile to everyone when he meets up, he’s got a real infectious sort of attitude but, above all, he’s a quality player. He can make things happen, whether he be starting or on the bench.”
Giggs was unable to give a full assessment of the injury to Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, who had to be replaced with what appeared to be a thigh injury in the 79th minute when he pulled up while attempting to prevent a stray pass going behind for a corner. Giggs said he hoped the injury would prove “just a tweak.”
Chelsea holding midfielder Ethan Amapdu – on loan at Sheffield United – started for Wales. Charlton new boy Chris Gunter was an unused substitute.
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