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Ashley Williams: Swansea City will thrive in Premier League survival bid

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: March 07, 2014

A disappointed Swansea City captain Ashley WIlliams thanks away supporters at the end of the game in Naples.

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ASHLEY Williams believes Swansea City can thrive in the end-of-season run-in now there's nothing to distract them from their Premier League survival bid.

Swansea have spent the last seven months juggling domestic commitments with a demanding Europa League programme.

But after a hard-fought last 32 clash with Napoli ended in defeat, that workload has eased.

And with no cup competitions to concentrate on, Swansea have the luxury of being single-minded in the home straight.

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Williams is one of a number of Swansea players who have also had to pack international matches into their schedule.

He was part of the Wales side who recorded an encouraging friendly win over Iceland on Wednesday.

They play a June match against Holland in the final warm-up exercise ahead of Euro 2016 qualifiers, which begin in September.

But there is now no Wales date in Williams's diary before the top-flight campaign concludes in May.

And, as they have no game this weekend, Swansea should resume against West Brom in eight days' time with a spring in their step.

"There are a few big games now for obvious reasons and this is another one, especially after not winning against Crystal Palace, which we wanted to do," said Williams.

"We'll be fully focused now on West Brom. That will be another tough game, I really feel that, but it's a game we want to win.

"We'll be back in on Saturday morning, fresh, looking to give it a go again.

"I've got no game at the weekend, which is nice. There are a couple of days I can spend with the family.

"It is what it is. You take the break and go again.

"We always had it in the back of our minds to get to Palace and then we knew we had a bit of a breather.

"It's not just about the rest, but we couldn't be out on the field that much working on things that Monks (Garry Monk) wants us to do."

Swansea drew 1-1 with Palace last Sunday, three days after bravely bowing out of the Europa League in Italy.

After taking the lead through Jonathan de Guzman, Monk's men appeared to flag in the second period and the Eagles battled back.

They equalised from the penalty spot and finished the game strongest.

"I've always said all season that the Europa League is not an excuse. We don't want to hide behind that. We enjoyed it and that is a fact," said Williams.

"But another fact is that if you fly back on a Friday you can't do anything and then you've got one day before the game. It can be tough like that.

"Now we've got a good few days before each game to work on the opponents.

"The Napoli games did affect us because it was such a big effort. But if you asked us if we wanted to do it again, the answer would be yes.

"I loved it and I think most of the boys did — it was a great experience.

"The only thing is that you don't get to work so much on the next game."

Williams played 72 minutes of Wednesday's match with Iceland as Gareth Bale inspired Wales to an encouraging victory.

The Real Madrid winger was majestic as he tormented his weary opponents with pace, power and sublime skill.

Bale made two goals and scored the third in a performance that provided further evidence, as if it were needed, of his incredible quality.

Welsh hopes of reaching Euro 2016 have been raised by a kind group draw and increased finals places made available.

Keeping Bale fit for the qualifying campaign seems absolutely vital to realising those dreams.

"I have never seen anything like that in my career. It was just an unbelievable performance, what a player, and I just hope he can stay fit both for himself and for us," said Williams.

"He can win games on his own. We have seen that before anyway. We will do our best, we will play our part, but we have one of the best players in the world so let's not hide from that fact.

"He has the ability to be super human, I think. He looks like a kid in the park, playing an international against a very good team. He just makes it look easy. Physically he is head and shoulders above most players, and his technique is second to none.

"He is really contributing, like everyone. We are all committed. He is no different. He didn't come and just turn up and put the shirt on. He wouldn't. He never has, I have never seen him do that.

"He is committed like the whole team and as I said before he will be massive for us. I am sure if he is injury free he will be here for every game and if that happens we have always got a chance."

Llanelli product Emyr Huws also won praise on his international debut as he played 90 minutes in midfield.

The victory extended Wales's unbeaten run to four matches, providing further grounds for optimism ahead of their first Group B game against Andorra in September.

"Emyr was very good, I was really impressed with him as most of the guys were," added Williams.

"He seems like a level-headed boy and it was a good debut.

"The thing was he got on the ball all night, even at times when we were under the cosh a bit and on a bobbly pitch.

"He's got a lovely left peg and good technique. As soon as he started in training you could see how well he could handle the ball.

"I don't want to stand and say too much, as I have done, and then we don't deliver. So I'll just say we are confident inside the camp, we feel like we can do it."

Swansea City Ashley Williams

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