Wales will match physicality of Northern Ireland, Williams insists

Wales' Ashley Williams during training

Wales face Northern Ireland in Paris on Saturday after qualifying as Group B winners, leaving their captain confident of progressing to the quarter-finals

Wales' Ashley Williams attends a news conferenceWales' Ashley Williams believes his side can beat Northern Ireland

Ashley Williams is confident Wales have the physicality and fighting spirit needed to overcome Northern Ireland and progress to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, BBC Sport has reported.

Wales take on Saturday's opponents as winners of Group B, with a resounding 3-0 win over Russia setting up their encounter with Michael O'Neill's side, who progressed as one of the competition's best third-placed teams.

Slovakia's Matus Kozacik in action with Wales' Ashley WilliamsWilliams has been a key part of his side's progress at Euro 2016

The two teams last met in March for a friendly at the Cardiff City Stadium, which ended with a 1-1 draw.

Star players Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey both sat out that contest, meaning there is likely to be a different dimension to the game at the Parc des Princes. 

Northern Ireland head coach Michael O'Neill celebrates after Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn scores their second goalNorthern Ireland head coach Michael O'Neill celebrates after Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn scores their second goal

Bale currently sits alongside Spain's Alvaro Morata as the tournament's top scorer with three goals, while impressive performances against England and Russia have seen Ramsey predictably emerge as a key man in the centre of midfield.

But there is reportedly a feeling within the Welsh camp that Northern Ireland will pose a more physical challenge compared to their previous opponents, although captain Williams is under no doubt his side can progress.

Wales' Gareth Bale and Aaron RamseyWales' Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey

According to BBC Sport, he told reporters: "One thing we can do is fight.

"We've played very well in this tournament, especially the other night [against Russia] with the ball, but I think it's a given this Wales team is physical.

"It matches the work-rate of the opposition and fights. We know it will be a tough match against Northern Ireland and we'll more than match them."

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