Wales wait for Ashley Williams to lead resistance against Belgium

Wales' Ashley Williams and Jonathan Williams sustaining injuries after colliding

Wales expect Ashley Williams to be fit for their quarter-final against Belgium on Friday despite the captain’s sustaining a shoulder injury in the closing stages of the victory against Northern Ireland.

Wales finished behind Belgium as runners-up in qualifying for Euro 2016 but Chris Coleman’s side have not lost against their upcoming opponents – ranked No2 in the world by Fifa – in three attempts.

Their task in Lille on Friday night would have been far tougher without Williams, but the centre-half will be ready for the game despite a collision with his team‑mate Jonny Williams on Saturday. James Collins was preparing to come on in the closing stages of the 1-0 win against Northern Ireland but Williams fought on.

“We think it was when he fell after he collided with Jonny,” Coleman, the Wales manager, said . “He landed on his hand with a straight arm which was a bit of an impact on his shoulder.

“He’s a bit bruised and sore, but he’ll be fine and we’ll get him on the grass as soon as we can. It probably won’t be for the next day or two, but he is not a worry or a doubt and I would be surprised if he doesn’t make the game.

“Ash being Ash, he didn’t want to come off and we were right. He thrives on it. All players at the top level want to play against top teams, where the excitement is, and Ash is no different.”

Belgium have grown into the tournament and, despite a few disjointed early displays, they dismantled Hungary 4-0 in the round of 16 on Sunday night.

Eden Hazard was particularly impressive for Marc Wimots’s side – creating and scoring – and Coleman is wary of the challenge posed by the Chelsea player and other big names in the Belgium squad.

Wales’s opponents have regularly been quizzed before matches about how to cope with the talent of Gareth Bale. This time Coleman was asked the same of Hazard, and said: “You can spend a month in defensive situations to try and stop player like that – in a split second he can disappoint those plans. He’s a great player.

“We’ve faced him before but we won’t have special plans for one player. We know areas he likes to attack and positions to take up – but the fact we know it doesn’t mean we can stop it all the time. I watched the game last night. Yes they are a good team but there’s nothing for us to fear.”

Wales defeated Belgium 1-0 in Cardiff in June 2015 and have conceded just three goals during the tournament so far. However, Coleman insists that his side’s lack of tournament experience makes them underdogs.

The Wales manager said: “Belgium have been here before in a quarter-final, this is new for us. They have players on the pitch and the bench that would grace any international team. But in the last four years we’ve had four meetings and won one and drawn two, so there’s nothing to be afraid of.

“The game will be built up as it’s a quarter-final of a major tournament, but if we get carried away with that it will go out of the window. If you go too open against Belgium they will go through you like a knife through butter.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by James Riach, for The Guardian on Monday 27th June 2016 17.59 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch