Ashley Williams will be at his best for Everton
MICHAEL Laudrup expects Ashley Williams to be back at his dominant best against Everton this weekend despite his skipper's early-season struggles.
Williams has endured a difficult start to the new campaign, making uncharacteristic mistakes in Swansea City's last two games which led directly to goals.
The Welsh international defender also endured a miserable international break, when he played in the home defeat by Belgium and the 6-1 humbling in Serbia.
Williams's errors have prompted raised eyebrows because he has been a model of consistency at the heart of Swansea's defence for the last four seasons.
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Laudrup believes the 28-year-old may have suffered mentally after Wales's 6-1 Serbian World Cup qualifier humiliation.
But he is unconcerned about Williams's recent awkward moments in club colours.
"It's always difficult when people get used to you playing so well," said the Swansea manager.
"People say 'He never makes mistakes', but I can say for sure that nobody does not make a mistake at some time.
"Suddenly you make a couple in a couple of weeks and people say 'How can that happen?'.
"Ashley was the first one to be disappointed and to ask how it could happen, but I say it is the human factor.
"It is just like referees. Everton should have had a goal the other night but (Marouane) Fellaini was given offside.
"That was wrong because he was not offside, but that is the human factor."
Williams has been a colossus for Swansea since joining from Stockport in 2008, hardly missing a game for club or country in that time.
Described by ex-boss Brendan Rodgers as one of the top four centre-backs in the country last season, he has been arguably Swansea's most reliable player as they have made their mark in the top flight.
And Laudrup believes Williams's recent travails have not been helped by Wales's poor form.
"I know the first mistake for us was before he went away with Wales, but after those games it's normal that he feels responsible as part of the national team, because that team is everybody's and that can affect you," he added.
Against Sunderland, Williams's under-hit back-pass let in Steven Fletcher.
And at Villa Park last weekend he did not get enough on an attempted back-header, which allowed Christian Benteke to score the killer second goal.
"I thought Ashley played okay at Villa," Laudrup said.
"I have not been a defender, but in the last 15 or 20 minutes we were trying hard to get an equaliser and we had a lot of players up the pitch.
"They played a long ball forward and I think Ashley thought 'I have to get this back to Michel (Vorm) as quickly as possible so we can attack again'.
"He was focused maybe more on the situation than the ball and the header came up a little short.
"It's a mistake of course, no-one can deny that, but you just have to learn from these things."
Laudrup reckons Williams has been exposed in part by the way Swansea play.
"We ask all our players to play the ball — we don't tell them just to kick it away," he continued.
"Sometimes yes we should just kick it away, but when you are 1-0 down with a few minutes to go you don't think about doing that.
"If we had been 1-0 up, Ashley probably would have kicked it out of the stadium.
"Against Sunderland he could have kicked it into the stand, but it was 0-0, we were playing well and he wanted to keep us playing.
"That's what we ask our players to do and that's what we will ask them to do again."