PA Sport

Ashley Williams backs fringe players to maintain Wales momentum

Ashley Williams backs fringe players to maintain Wales momentum
By PA Sport

21/03/2016 at 12:54Updated 21/03/2016 at 13:00

Ashley Williams has urged Wales to cope without Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey and maintain momentum heading towards Euro 2016.

Wales crank up their Euro 2016 preparations with friendlies against Northern Ireland in Cardiff on Thursday night and in Ukraine four days later, two fellow finalists in France this summer.

But Chris Coleman's squad have been struck by injuries with star acts Bale and Ramsey joining James Collins, Andy King, Paul Dummett and David Edwards on the sidelines.

"Momentum's a big thing and we want to keep it going," said Wales captain Williams.

"We lost to Holland in our last game but we played very well.

"There were a lot of good performances from guys who came in and don't play very much."

Real Madrid forward Bale and Arsenal midfielder Ramsey both missed the 3-2 defeat to Holland in November, Wales' first game since securing qualification for the European Championship.

They will be missing again as Bale has been spared international duty after only just returning to action following calf problems, while Ramsey recovers from a thigh injury and is still a few weeks away from full fitness.

"Both guys are important to what we're trying to do," said Williams.

"Everyone knows what good players they are, but we need to perform well as a team no matter who plays.

"It's a shame Gaz and Aaron are missing the games, but on the other side some people are going to play who wouldn't have played.

"The boys coming in have got something to prove because they're trying to secure themselves a spot in the squad for the Euros."

The ever-reliable Williams has clocked up 36 appearances for club and country this season and has barely missed a game in eight years at Swansea.

Wales manager Coleman said last week he hopes his skipper will have a breather before Euro 2016 as soon as Swansea secure their top-flight safety.

But the 31-year-old central defender will not be requesting a break this week as Wales build towards their first major tournament for 58 years.

"I'll be looking to play both games as always," said Williams.

"I enjoy playing for Wales and try to get on the field as much as I can.

"We haven't seen each other for a long time and the two games are very important.

"For the players most likely going to the Euros it's about team cohesion and keeping the momentum going.

"There will probably be a couple of different teams and changes, but we want to perform well against two good opponents."