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Neco Williams reveals the Liverpool star who is always there for him and why Fulham move has helped Wales chances

When donning the blood red jersey of Wales, it has been difficult to fathom that there were any remote concerns over Neco Williams’ lack of game-time at club level.

The Wrexham-born ace has been nothing short of a revelation for his country since making his international debut against Finland in 2020. Lung-busting runs, relentless energy and, most crucially of all, cutting edge in the final third are all key assets that have ensured Williams swiftly established himself as a firm favourite with the Red Wall.

And ahead of the biggest game of his career to date, Williams has finally been able to shirk the dreaded question over his struggles to get regular minutes away from the international scene.

READ MORE:Rob Page’s 26-man Wales squad in full

Ousting the likes of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold from the Liverpool starting lineup has proven to be a nigh-on impossible task, and, as a result, Williams clinched a loan move to Fulham in January, something that is standing the flying wing-back in good stead ahead of Wales’ crunch World Cup play-off semi-final with Austria.

“I’ve learnt a lot off Robbo, him being one of the best left-backs in the world, you learn a lot from just training with him every day,” said Williams. “He’s a great character. Whatever you need help with, he’s always there giving his honest answer. I have learnt massively off him and especially Trent because he is on my side and ahead of me at the minute.”

Since making the switch to London, the 20-year-old has run riot in the Championship. Rob Page is now set to be the man to benefit even further from Williams’ regular inclusion in the Cottagers’ starting lineups. For Williams, though, he’s readier than ever to prove the hype is real when it comes to his talents.

“I’m really enjoying it. As footballers, you just want to play as much football as possible,” he said on his time with Fulham so far.

“For me at Liverpool, it’s going to be limited game-time because of the players ahead of me and the world-class players I’m with. Coming to Wales has been about trying to keep up fitness but for this camp I’m playing regular football, enjoying it, scoring, assisting, so it’s going well and I feel I’m in the best possible shape I can be in.

“My main focus was to play as much as possible and get that match rhythm and match fitness. You can only do that by playing regular football. That’s what I’m doing at the minute and I’m loving it. I’ve scored a few goals, getting assists, so everything’s going smoothly so far. As long as I’m playing and I’m keeping fit everything should go smoothly.

“This is the semi-final for us and all the focus is on the game against Austria. This has been the main focus for us all, training to play as much football as possible and keeping as fit as possible. I’m sure the whole of Wales is looking forward to it. If we win that, then we’re one step closer to the World Cup.”

Do you think Wales will qualify for the World Cup in Qatar? Have your say in the comments section below.

Wales are bidding to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1958. Victory over Austria on Thursday night will see them progress into the play-off final which is set to be held in June owing to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month.

The wait until a potential final would no doubt be filled with unparalleled tension, although, while the shadows of past failures in 1977, 1985, 1993 and 2003 to name a few always loom large, the confidence within a camp that boasts stars who have featured in back-to-back European Championships is more than enough for Williams to believe the Grim Reaper could undeniably be sent packing should he dare to lurk over this upcoming challenge.

“You think about it all the time. As players you always want to play in the biggest of tournaments and on the biggest stages. We’ve got a chance to do that, to qualify and show what we can do as a team,” he added.

“We’ve got players who’ve played in massive games. I know the whole Welsh nation is supporting us, all the fans around Wales are with us and I know the atmosphere is going to be incredible.”

Wales v Austria gets under way at 7:45pm on Thursday.

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