Swansea City's Ashley Williams is good enough for big four, says Wales manager Chris Coleman
CHRIS Coleman has insisted Ashley Williams is good enough to play for one of the Premier League's top four as the Swansea City centre-back prepares to lead Wales out in a World Cup qualification double- header.
Williams will skipper his country against Scotland at Hampden Park a week tomorrow before Croatia visit the Liberty Stadium four days later.
He replaced Aaron Ramsey as captain after Coleman looked to shake up his squad following a run of poor results, and Wales have won two out of three games since that change.
Coleman is a long-time admirer of Williams, a man who Arsenal and Liverpool are thought to be tracking ahead of the summer transfer window.
And former Fulham and Blackburn defender Coleman is in no doubt that Williams is good enough to represent the very best teams in the country.
He believes Swansea should take any interest in Williams as a compliment.
"If I was manager at a top-four club, I'd have no qualms about trying to sign Ashley Williams. He's certainly one of the best defenders I've had a chance to work with," said the Wales boss.
"I think he's got a great personality and a great mentality towards football. He didn't come through an academy in the Premier League so he's never been spoiled.
"He gets enjoyment from his job and on top of that he's a top-quality defender, so I'm not surprised he's being linked with big clubs. I'm not surprised he's done as well as he has done.
"He's playing in the best Swansea team that I've ever seen, they've got a quality manager in Michael Laudrup and the club's run brilliantly from top to bottom. They really are in a strong position.
"Swansea will know that players like Ashley Williams, if they're performing well, are going to attract attention.
"But that's good for Swansea because they're doing something right."
Williams is one of three Swansea players included in Coleman's squad for Wales's next two matches.
Ben Davies also features on the 23-man list, while Jazz Richards — on loan at Crystal Palace — is another who has been selected.
Joe Allen has been named in the group despite the fact Liverpool's former Swansea midfielder needs an operation on his shoulder.
"We know Joe has had a problem and will need surgery but until we're told he's not available we'll pick the strongest squad we can and Joe is very much a part of that," added Coleman, whose side are looking to build momentum with their hopes of reaching the 2014 World Cup in Brazil all but over.
Celtic full-back Adam Matthews is missing with a hamstring injury, but star names Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy are both included.
James Collins boosts Coleman's centre-back options, with Darcy Blake not included amid concerns over his fitness levels.
Uncapped midfielder Jonathan Williams is promoted from the Wales Under-21 squad after scoring in their 3-0 win over Iceland and impressing with his recent performances for Crystal Palace.
Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey is also back after being a late withdrawal for Wales's last outing against Austria.
Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is still recovering from a long-term knee injury.
Wales squad: Myhill (West Brom), Price (Crystal Palace), Fon Williams (Tranmere), Davies (Swansea), Collins (West Ham), Gunter (Reading), Lynch (Huddersfield), Richards (Swansea — loan Crystal Palace), Ricketts (Bolton), Williams (Swansea), Allen (Liverpool), Collison (West Ham), King (Leicester), Ledley (Celtic), Ramsey (Arsenal), Vaughan (Sunderland), Williams (Crystal Palace), Bale (Spurs), Bellamy (Cardiff), Church (Reading), Morison (Leeds), Robson-Kanu (Reading), Vokes (Burnley).