Having returned for the first week of pre-season with Liverpool, Rhys Williams is unsure where he fits into Jurgen Klopp‘s plan and is “ready for whatever.”
After a frustrating loan at Swansea in the first half of last season, Williams returned to Merseyside and trained regularly with the first-team squad for the remainder.
While he failed to make an appearance, the 21-year-old was named on the bench for the 2-0 win over Villarreal and the 2-1 victory at Southampton, effectively serving as fifth-choice centre-back.
This summer, he finds himself among the backup cohort alongside Nat Phillips, Sepp van den Berg and Ben Davies, with it likely that one of those four is kept to support Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez.
Williams and Van den Berg have both been touted with loan moves, while Phillips and Davies are linked with permanent exits, but as it stands it is unclear who will depart.
Speaking to LFCTV during the opening days of pre-season training, Williams reflected on that as he revealed he himself was unsure where he stands at this point.
“For me, [this pre-season is] important so I’m ready for whatever the gaffer wants me to do,” he said.
“If it’s to be around the team again, as I was at second half of last season, or if it’s to go on loan.
“Whatever challenges face me this season, I need to be ready for.”
Given the quality of centre-backs ahead of him in the pecking order, it is unlikely that Williams will break into that four-man senior group, but there is still value in playing fifth choice.
After having already done so for the second half of last term, though, it may be decided that another temporary switch would better serve his development at 21.
Either way, he – along with Van den Berg, who has suitors in the Premier League, the Bundesliga and LaLiga – will be looking to use the upcoming run of pre-season friendlies to make his mark.
“If I can impress here and the gaffer wants me to stay, that’s a bonus,” he continued.
“But if my game time might come somewhere else, then I have to showcase what I can do on these big stages even if it is a pre-season friendly.
“Because it’s still against massive clubs in the Premier League.”
Williams did play a major role in the run-in of the bizarre 2020/21 campaign, forming a solid partnership with Phillips as Liverpool defied to odds to finish third in the league.
That gave him a taste of senior football that he has been unable to satisfy since, with neither Swansea or Liverpool, but his mentality is impeccable despite that.
“You can’t sulk or throw your toys out of the pram, because it’s a collective, group effort,” he said.
“There were times when I was on the bench last season and I could have been needed.
“So I always have to keep my head on whenever I’m going to be needed and just make sure I can provide what the gaffer needs.”