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Jonny Williams targets another major tournament appearance with Wales

Birmingham City v Charlton Athletic – Sky Bet Championship – St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Jonny Williams’ career has mirrored a roller coaster but he is determined to enjoy another high with Wales next summer.

The midfielder was unable to stop Charlton going straight back down from the Sky Bet Championship last month – a year after he helped the Addicks into the second tier with promotion via the League One play-offs.

Williams featured in the Wembley win against old club Sunderland in May 2019 after he had spent the 2017-18 campaign on loan with the Black Cats, who went on to suffer relegation.

Fit and raring to go for the next challenge, the 26-year-old has the ultimate long-term goal this season of appearing at another European Championship with Wales.

“People say it is a roller coaster, it is for sure,” Williams told PA news agency.

“My career has been so up and down and it has been some journey.”

Jonny Williams suffered relegation with Charlton this season

Jonny Williams suffered relegation with Charlton this season (John Walton/PA)

The initial challenge for the Welshman is to decide where he will play his football.

He signed a one-year deal at Charlton last summer and can extend it by a further 12 months, but after returning to the international scene has several Championship clubs chasing his signature.

Williams added: “I have my option year and I am assessing all options with my agent every day to see what is best for me.

“My main aim now is to put myself in the best position to get in a Wales shirt on a frequent basis because I had missed doing that when I missed a couple of years.

“To be back playing under (Ryan) Giggs last year was amazing and it is the pinnacle of every player’s career to play at the top, top level.

“I want to make sure I am in a good position to make sure I am recognised for that and wherever that will be, I guess we’ll see. I have loved my time at Charlton and we’ll see what happens in the near future.”

When Williams returned to the Wales set-up in September, it was the first time he had been called up by former Manchester United winger Giggs.

A cameo against Azerbaijan was his first international appearance since the Euro 2016 semi-final defeat to Portugal and he started in a friendly against Belarus days later.

More good form for Charlton saw Williams summoned again for key qualifiers with Slovakia and Croatia in October and he was trusted from the off in both fixtures and helped his country secure consecutive 1-1 draws.

“I didn’t expect to be starting them massive games and I have played in big games in a Wales shirt but they were very important in the end to get the two draws against two top teams to qualify,” Williams added.

“Just being back, there was a point in my career a couple of years ago where I wondered if I would ever be back in a Wales shirt and to play under Giggs, who was an absolute legend, was a bit surreal.

“For him to show that belief to put me in the starting XI and then for me to play well gives me a bit of self-belief that I have still got it and it is just about having that belief.”

Ryan Giggs brought Williams back into the Wales fold after a string of impressive displays

Ryan Giggs brought Williams back into the Wales fold after a string of impressive displays (Mike Egerton/PA)

Knee surgery saw Williams miss out on Wales’ crucial group fixtures against Azerbaijan and Hungary in November but he linked up with the squad to watch them secure a place at Euro 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic saw the tournament put back by 12 months and the versatile midfielder is eager to ensure his career continues on an upward trajectory by staying fit this season.

Williams played 27 times for Charlton in all competitions last term to put previous shoulder issues behind him, but now it is all about picking the right club before Wales’ Nations League matches next month.

He said: “I don’t like not knowing where I will be, but at the same time I feel good and my body feels good.

“I have played just under 30 games so it has been a good season for me and I am in a good position whatever happens. I know a Wales camp is just around the corner so I will be looking to hopefully be in the squad.

“Not knowing about your future is a bit uncertain but I am a believer of whatever happens, happens for a reason so if I have that mentality I feel at ease.”

There have been plenty of lows for Williams since he starred at Euro 2016, with the Kent-born footballer conceding Charlton’s relegation “still hurts” and “was tough to take because you work so hard and it’s a great club.”

Jonny Williams, left, was a key part of Wales' success at Euro 2016 where the nation came fourth

Williams, left, was a key part of Wales’ success at Euro 2016 where the nation came fourth (Nick Potts/PA)

With injury woes seemingly behind him, the midfielder craves to experience another major tournament.

“After the experience at the Euros, I still get people asking me how it was,” Williams revealed.

“It’s one of those things you never think you will experience as a footballer, to go to a major tournament.

“To have the opportunity to do it all over again is massive and the main thing is to put myself in a position to go and then it’s obviously up to the staff. As long as I am playing and I am fit, I’ll have no regrets.”