One to Watch - Ashley Williams
Vital QPR has outlined defender Ashley Williams as the One to Watch ahead of this weekend.
Name: Ashley Williams
Date of Birth: 23/8/1984
Former Clubs: Hednesford Town, Stockport County
League Appearances (Goals): 374 (14)
International Appearances (Goals): 33 (1)
Stat of the Day: Along with Jonas Olsson, Ashley Williams blocked the most shots (39) in the Premier League last season
With every summer transfer window the Premier League hails a new list of exotic foreign imports, and new Swansea manager Michael Laudrup has quickly endeavoured to fashion his own horrendously sounding pop band with the signings of unrenowned 'Chico` and 'Michu`. With much uncertainty surrounding Swansea`s new signings and the team`s capabilities to replicate last season`s stunning form following the departure of Brendan Rodgers, we turn our attentions to a player who was instrumental in serving Swansea`s playoff promotion success, keeping them up and will surely dictate how well they perform in their second Premier League season - Ashley Williams. Having only missed one league game in the last four seasons, the Welsh international, described by Brendon Rodgers as one of the top four defenders in the Premier League, has every right to proclaim legendary status amongst Swansea fans.
The 27-year-old was predominantly used as Swansea`s own version of Gerard Pique under Rodgers, utilised as a ball playing central defender, consistently putting in impressive defensive displays. As well as developing his own technical game, Williams also possesses the indispensable physical attributes to match his impressive footballing displays. Mark Hughes` first job of the season will be to replicate last season`s demolition of Swansea, by finding a way round Williams and his ability to conduct the Swans` defence in inspiring fashion. Despite pundits jumping on the Swansea passing bandwagon and waxing lyrical about every Swansea player, Williams certainly has the potential to complete his meteoric rise from an untried Dr Martens Southern Premier League player to a top 8 Premier League defender.
Ashley Williams began his youth career at West Brom but having been released at 16 he went on to join non-league Hednesford Town, topping up his £80 weekly wages by working at the Beafeater in his hometown of Tamworth. Having made 34 appearances for the Dr Martens Southern Premier League side his break came in 2003 when he signed for Stockport County, who prevailed over competition from Oldham Athletic.
He made 162 league appearances for The Hatters, and in March 2008 signed for Swansea City on loan with a view to a permanent move. On 22 May he made the move permanent, believed to be at a fee of around £400 000. The defender has since made 178 league appearances for The Swans winning 'Wales Footballer of the Year` in 2009, equalling a club record 106 consecutive league appearances, and securing promotion to the Premier League in 2011.