Boro to get Williams boost
Middlesbrough have received a boost with the news that Rhys Williams is ready to return to first-team duties.
By Graeme Bailey - Follow me on Twitter @graemebailey
Last Updated: 03/03/11 6:22pm
Middlesbrough are set to receive a huge boost with the news that Australian international Rhys Williams is ready to return to first-team duties.
The 22-year-old, who can play in defence or midfield, has been sidelined for nearly 12 months with a pelvic injury which has required extensive rehabilitation.
The injury picked up last season saw him miss the World Cup finals, after being named in Australia's provisional squad - but now after coming through a reserve-team clash on Wednesday, he is ready to play for the first team again.
"Rhys is going to be a big plus for us," he said.
"I'm not expecting Superman to burst out on the pitch over the next few weeks but he's a high quality player, I can see that in training.
"He's been training with the team for two or three weeks now and he's very smooth with the ball and very athletic.
"He's a laidback character and he'll be a plus for us when we get him back competing for a place in the team.
"We're considering taking him down to Reading with us and maybe sticking him on the bench. We'll see how the game unfolds, he might spend 90 minutes sitting on the bench or we might give him an opportunity to get involved.
"Everybody I talk to tells me what a talented boy he is and I'm looking forward to getting him back and involved in the squad."
Williams has played, right-back, centre-half and in central midfield during his fledging career and Mowbray does not yet know where he will play him.
"I'll talk to Rhys as we go along and get a feel for where I think he's best utilised for the team," he said.
"In an ideal world you do try to find one position where you can give a player a goal to try to compete for the team.
"But it's always a positive with a squad that if you do get injuries you've got someone with the versatility to play other positions.
"In our current plight and with the injuries we've got at centre-half, he's six foot two, he's quick, sees danger, there's no reason he can't play centre-half as well.
"But people here tell me if you put him in midfield he likes a tackle and can break it up and is smooth with the ball.
"I see him as a midfield player at this moment but that might change if there's an opportunity for him to play somewhere else in the team.
"He'll be taken along with the squad on Saturday as part of a potential midfield change, if that's what's required over the course of 90 minutes."
Williams is looking forward to being involved against Reading at the weekend.
"It was massive for me to play my first competitive game for 11 months," he said.
"It's brought me much closer to my goal of returning to the first team.
"It's been a long, long time. Now I feel ready. I am fully fit again.
"I have to stay involved and fight my way into the team.
"Nothing would please me more than to be part of the squad at Reading on Saturday, but that's down to the gaffer."