Wales’ Williams ‘fine’ for Euro 2016 quarter-final tie

Date published: Monday 27th June 2016 3:52

Ashley Williams: Injured his shoulder against N Ireland

Ashley Williams: Injured his shoulder against N Ireland

Wales expect skipper Ashley Williams to be fit for their Euro 2016 quarter-final clash with Belgium.

Williams damaged his shoulder during the closing stages of Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland in Paris on Saturday.

But Williams was able to complete the last-16 win and Wales manager Chris Coleman dismissed reports that his captain had suffered a dislocated shoulder at the Parc des Princes.

“We think it was when he fell after he collided with Jonny (Williams),” said Coleman.

“He landed on his hand with a straight arm which was a bit of an impact on his shoulder.

“He’s a bit bruised and sore, but he’ll be fine and we’ll get him on the grass as soon as we can.

“It probably won’t be for the next day or two, but he is not a worry or a doubt and I would be surprised if he doesn’t make the game.”

James Collins was ready to replace Williams in Paris, but the Swansea centre-back stayed on the field as Wales saw out the game.

“Ash being Ash he didn’t want to come off and we were right,” said Coleman. “He thrives on it.

“All players at the top level want to play against top teams, where the excitement is, and Ash is no different.”

Belgium’s 4-0 victory over Hungary on Sunday set up a reunion with Wales as the two nations were in the same Euro 2016 qualifying group.

Wales drew 0-0 in Brussels and a 1-0 victory in Cardiff, when Gareth Bale was on target, extended their unbeaten run against Belgium to three matches.

But Coleman says Belgium’s experience of major tournaments – they reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup – gives them a distinct advantage in Lille on Friday night.

“Belgium have been here before in a quarter-final, this is new for us,” said Coleman.

“They have players on the pitch and the bench that would grace any international team.

“But in the last four years we’ve had four meetings and won one and drawn two, so there’s nothing to be afraid of.

“The game will be built up as it’s a quarter-final of a major tournament, but if we get carried away with that it will go out of the window.

“If you go too open against Belgium they will go through you like a knife through butter.

“They are expected to win, but what we have is a good pressure because of what we expect of each other.

“We are a good team and the pressure for me is how get this team to do what they’re capable of.”

Coleman says he has no special plans to combat Belgium talisman Eden Hazard, saying Wales will attempt to negate the threat of the in-form Chelsea forward within their tactical game plan.

But he is looking forward to going head-to-head again with Red Devils boss Marc Wilmots, who was heavily criticised in the Belgian media after their opening group defeat to Italy.

“People will look at Marc and be envious of the quality and strength he’s got in his squad, the choices and substitutions that he’s able to make,” said Coleman.

“But that comes with its own problems.

“Going into the tournament the pressure is on them because of the team they’ve got, they have to get to the semi-final, the final or even win it.

“It’s not easy for Marc, but I don’t look at other managers and feel too much sympathy or love because I know how tough the job is.

“It’s about your own team because it’s dog eat dog.”

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