Middlesborough defender Rhys Williams

Rhys Williams returns to action

Socceroo defender Rhys Williams will end a 23-month year injury nightmare and return to action with Middlesborough U21s at the weekend.

The 27-year-old is still a long way from making a return to the Championship sides first team but his presence on the pitch will benchmark an important step in the right direction.

Williams suffered an Achilles’ heel injury during a league tie with Wigan in January 2014 before the same injury reoccurred a 12 months later.

Clocking just six minutes of senior action in almost two years, the sight of Williams back on the pitch is a more than welcome one for Boro manager Aitor Karanka.

“Rhys is training with the team, and we are thinking that he can play with the Under-21s,” Karanka told Gazette Live.

“Maybe one or two games (for the Under-21s). He is really good, and feels better than last season. We are all really pleased.”

“He’s a player who has been injured for almost two years and I’m really pleased because I can see how excited he is on the pitch.

Williams is a fan favourite at the Riverside Stadium and has made over 100 appearances during an eight year spell.

He was ruled out of the last two FIFA World Cup competitions through injury and Karanka will be cautious when rushing his centre back to the side.

“He needs time, he needs to recover his fitness and confidence and if he recovers that then he’s an important player for us because he’s one of the best defenders we have and it’s important for us," Karanka said.