Rhys Williams. Swansea. (Credit: Action Plus Sports/Alamy Live News)

Liverpool loanee eager to “earn my shirt” after Swansea U23s run out

Rhys Williams is out to ensure he has ticked every possible box for when the call comes to return to Swansea’s starting lineup, including taking part in a Swans’ academy fixture.

After a breakthrough with Liverpool last season, it was important to keep the momentum rolling for the 20-year-old but three months into 2021/22, Williams has just 229 senior minutes to his name.

A minor groin injury has been a factor in recent weeks for the youngster, who has received mass support after alleged racial abuse back in September at Luton.

He would start in the 2-0 loss to Brighton in the League Cup just four days after the Luton game but has since featured for just four minutes for Russell Martin’s side.

But the young centre-back is intent on ensuring that when he’s called up he won’t be “blowing up” and he seized the opportunity to feature for Swansea’s under-23s as they faced Watford in the Professional Development League.

“When I’m called upon I need to be ready and I don’t want to be blowing up so to get 90 minutes under my belt and to play the way we wanted to play was a good feeling,” Williams told Swansea’s official website.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool's Rhys Williams during the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0 and finished 3rd in the table. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I don’t want to be called upon and not have the match minutes in my legs.

“My aim is obviously to come here and play games and hopefully, I’ll get the chance to do that and earn my shirt when I am called upon.

“I was trying to implement the way Russell Martin wants me to play in the first team and hopefully he’s happy with the way I played.”

Martin watched on as Williams featured for 90 minutes in the 2-0 win, playing alongside former Liverpool academy player Yan Dhanda.

Prior to his U23s run out, Martin explained Williams’ situation and how Liverpool remain content with what they are seeing with continued development for the centre-back key.

“We’ve had a lot of chats, Liverpool sent their loan manager down and he’s been really impressed with what he’s seen and the way Rhys has trained and worked,” Martin explained, via Wales Online.

“It’s part of every young player’s journey, sometimes you have to be patient.

“He only came out of the team in the first place because he had a tight groin.

“He’s found it really hard to come back in because the boys have played so well, and he understands that.”

Since Williams’ last Championship start, Swansea have won four of their last seven games with Kyle Naughton, Ryan Manning and Ben Cabango the preferred back three.

It’s another challenge for Williams but his words show he has the fighting spirit to compete for a spot and keep it.