Give Ashley Williams a break, urges Swansea City boss Laudrup
MICHAEL Laudrup is putting pressure on Wales to give Ashley Williams a break after insisting rest is best for the Swansea City skipper.
Williams will be absent when Swansea host St Gallen in the Europa League tonight (8.05) because of an ongoing ankle problem.
The influential centre-back also looks unlikely to play at Southampton on Sunday, which would mean he has featured in only one of five Swansea games heading into the international break.
Nevertheless, Williams is tipped to be included today when Chris Coleman names his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia a week tomorrow and Belgium four days later.
Laudrup says he has no problem with the Wales captain joining up with the national team so his injury can be assessed.
But without coming out and demanding that Williams does not play, the Swansea boss has made it fairly clear that he will be disappointed if the 29-year-old features in either Welsh game given that World Cup qualification hopes have long since disappeared.
"Some clubs and some managers would do it, but I would never tell a player to call his country and tell them he is not playing," Laudrup said.
"I can only try to ask for common sense, and this is not about Swansea City or the national team.
"This is about one player. Ashley wants to be here and he wants to be there — he is the captain of his club and of his country and he doesn't want to disappoint anyone.
"You cannot ask him to say 'I want to do this and not that'. That's why it's up to the rest of us to try to work out what's best for him — because that will also be best for all of us.
"I have no problem with him going away with Wales and being part of the squad for ten days. He can join up with them and their doctors and physios can have a look at him.
"But St Gallen will be the third game in a row where he hasn't played for us. That is more than ever before since he came to Swansea, and that shows you that he is injured."
Williams's problem is not regarded as serious, and Laudrup reckons around ten days of complete rest will mean he is able to train pain-free.
But Chris Coleman is in need of results and will want Williams involved if at all possible given that he is a key man.
Wales may have no chance of reaching Brazil, but Coleman could do with some success as he attempts to secure a new contract.
"I have not spoken to Wales because I have not had time, but I have spoken to Chris a couple of times in the past," Laudrup added.
"He knows the Wales games are not in the last week of the season. I know it is the end of the qualifying campaign, but Wales cannot go to the World Cup and they are fighting only for positions in the group.
"I think there are other good players he can pick. And although Ash is a really good player, you will not see the real Ashley Williams if he is only 80 per cent fit.
"Even Lionel Messi cannot perform when he is not 100 per cent — you saw that when Barcelona played Bayern Munich last season — and any player will struggle if he is not right.
"Ash wants to play in every game, but he can't do that. That's why we have to take care of him."
Garry Monk (knee) and Pablo Hernandez (thigh) are expected to join Williams on the absentee list tonight, while Angel Rangel is also doubtful because of an ankle injury
Even with some experienced players missing, Laudrup is pledging to field "a competitive team" as he bids to seize control of Group A.
After victory in Valencia, Swansea would be in pole position to qualify for the last 32 if they can take three points off a St Gallen side who are unbeaten in their last 12 matches.
Read Leighton James's view - opposite page.