Rhys Williams (R) before the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool loanee still hasn’t debuted for new club with “niggle after niggle”

Liverpool loanee Rhys Williams has not played for Aberdeen since a 45-minute outing in pre-season, with “niggle after niggle” keeping him out.

When Williams joined Aberdeen at the end of June, the centre-back’s aim was to emulate long-time team-mate Leighton Clarkson and enjoy a breakthrough campaign.

But while Clarkson has taken up a key role again following his permanent switch to Pittrodie over the summer, it has been much different for Williams.

His only appearance for Aberdeen so far came in a pre-season friendly against Turriff United, playing 45 minutes as part of the warmup schedule.

He missed subsequent friendlies against Fraserburgh, Preston and Charlton, with manager Barry Robson explaining between the latter two games that he “had a few issues with his back going into his calves.”

Robson’s assessment at the time was: “He has had to go back and start again with his training regime.”

Almost two months on and Williams is no closer to returning for the first team, with only 90 minutes for the under-21s and a night on the bench in the Europa League qualifying defeat to Hacken to show for his loan so far.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 19, 2023: Liverpool's Rhys Williams lines-up before during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-21's and Chelsea FC Under-21's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking before Aberdeen’s trip to Hearts on Saturday – the fifth consecutive league game Williams has missed – Robson said his situation was “stop-start.”

“He’s actually rolled his ankle,” Robson told the Press and Journal.

“He keeps getting niggle after niggle, where he’s just getting going and then has to stop again, but he’ll get there.”

In quotes carried by AberdeenLive, the manager admitted it had been “a real frustrating time” for Williams, but added that “hopefully we will get him back soon.”

Williams has endured frustrating loan spells in each of the past two seasons, with stints at Swansea in 2021/22 and Blackpool in 2022/23 both cut short.

LEYLAND, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 18, 2023: Liverpool's Rhys Williams during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Blackburn Rovers FC Under-21's and Liverpool FC Under-21's at the County Ground. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

That means he has played 24 games of senior football since his campaign in the Liverpool first team in 2020/21, with the move to Aberdeen designed to give him a regular starting spot.

The hope will be that he can prove his fitness and claim that in the near future, with Aberdeen competing on three fronts including the Europa Conference League.

Eintracht Frankfurt are their first opponents in Europe, with an away tie in Group G on Thursday, while HJK and PAOK are also in their group.

Aberdeen are into the quarter-finals of the Scottish League Cup, with Ross County to come on September 27, while they currently sit 11th in the Scottish Premiership.