Fully fit Williams ready to grasp fresh Caltex Socceroos chance
Classy centre-back Rhys Williams is confident his injury problems are behind him as he vies for a first Caltex Socceroos appearance in six years.
Several frustrating lay-offs interrupted the former Middlesbrough man's lengthy stay in Europe but two seasons in the Hyundai A-League – with Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory – and last year's switch to Saudi Arabia have brought rejuvenation to a defender long regarded as one of Australia's brightest talents.
Williams, 30, now plies his trade with Al-Qadsiah in the Middle East and his form facing the likes of Bafetimbi Gomis and Ahmed Musa earned him a call-up to Graham Arnold's squad for next Friday night’s friendly against Korea Republic in Busan.
The Western Australian believes he's in good shape to seize the chance and put previous heartbreak firmly in the past.
"It's obviously [been] difficult. I missed that first World Cup [in 2014] with an Achilles injury. I tried to rush it to get back but it wasn't meant to be," Williams told socceroos.com.au.
"And then I did it again, so there was two, two and a half years out injured.
"Ultimately it's good to be back here. It's good to be feeling good again and playing consistently for the last two to three years.
"[I've played] 30 odd games this season, I haven't really missed any training sessions, and I feel good to go.
"I feel I've got a lot to give now after missing so much football through my youth. It’s been a while but I'm delighted to be here again."
Williams might not be the only member of his family in action at Busan Asiad Stadium with younger brother Ryan, 25, in contention to make his debut.
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The pair last shared a pitch in August 2011, when Rhys scored for Middlesbrough against Portsmouth to snatch a share of the spotlight on his sibling's maiden professional appearance.
"I've never been this close to him during football," Rhys said of the now-Rotherham United winger.
"To watch him train and hopefully make his debut as well, it's a great opportunity for him.
"If he does makes his debut it would be a proud moment for me and my family.
"He made his senior professional debut against me, so it would be nice to see his international debut as well.
"It's nice to have fresh faces around and it's good for the boss to have people come in here and show what they can do.
"The boss said he's looking for depth and what a good camp to do it – everyone is fresh out of finishing a season and we've got some unbelievable opposition coming."