Postecoglou holds out World Cup hope for Williams

The 2015 Asian Cup came too soon for injury-cursed utility Rhys Williams according to Australia coach Ange Postecoglou.

Postecoglou has previously admitted he wants more depth in defence but Williams, who last week returned to playing after a long-term Achilles injury, was absent from the 23-man squad named on Tuesday morning.

The 26-year-old utility, who missed the World Cup in Brazil, had been named in Postecoglou’s provisional squad.

Williams’ club boss Aitor Karanka said last week the Australian would likely need to wait to force him way back into the first team.

Middlesbrough are currently flying high in the Championship and among the contenders for promotion. Williams also has a bad injury history and the club is likely to be cautious with his return.

The Asian Cup becomes the fourth major international tournament Williams will have missed due to injury, having also been absent for the 2011 edition and 2010 World Cup due to a pelvic problem.

“The Asian Cup came too quickly, but there’s the four-year cycle with a World Cup to come,” Postecoglou said.

“If he’s fit and well he certainly gives us some depth in the area of the park we still feel we need more players, particularly in the centre of defence.”

Williams had been out of action for 11 months prior to last week’s 60-minute return for Middlesbrough’s Under-21s.

“I’m obviously delighted that he’s starting to play again,” Postecoglou said.

“It’s been a long road back and I’m sure from his own point of view he’ll be a lot more comfortable after he’s got a few games under his belt.”

Last week, Karanka indicated it was unlikely Williams would see first-team action prior to the Asian Cup camp starting.

 “I think it’s very important for him to get a feel for playing games again, but he has to keep calm because he’s been out for 11 months,” Karanka told the club’s website.

“It’s difficult to get fit again, but he’s intelligent and an experienced player and he’s been doing really well in training.”