Ashley Williams vows to continue leading Wales after dismissing retirement talk

Ashley Williams insists he has not considered retiring from international football and is prepared to lead Wales into the next cycle of competitive matches.

Williams turned 33 in August and manager Chris Coleman called him a “broken man” after Wales’ defeat to the Republic of Ireland last month ended their hopes of playing in next summer’s World Cup.

James Collins – a year older than Williams to the day – subsequently called time on his international career after that defeat.

But Williams says he remains committed to the Wales cause, even though he will be nearly 36 when the finals of Euro 2020 are played.

“It was devastating to go out of the World Cup,” said Williams, who is set to win his 76th cap against France in Friday’s Paris friendly.

“But as I sit here I’m enjoying the camp and as long as it stays like that I’m willing to give my services.

“As hard as that (Republic) defeat was to take, I’m here now and I can’t wait to be involved.

“As long as it stays like that I can’t see anything changing anytime soon.”

Everton defender Williams has had a difficult season for club and country having been guilty of making some high-profile mistakes.

But Coleman defended his captain last week by saying Williams’ “character” would get him through this period.

And Williams admits he is excited by the prospect of taking on Didier Deschamps’ talented side at the Stade de France – the first meeting between the two sides for 35 years.

“Some of these players I’ve never played against before, some of them are the best in the world,” he said.

“We’ve played some of the best already, we’ve dealt with them well and this is another challenge for us.

“If we play as well as we can individually and as a team by imposing ourselves on them then I’m sure we’ll be OK.”

Wales are without Gareth Bale due to the calf injury which ruled the Real Madrid forward out of their final two World Cup qualifiers.

But Coleman plans to name a strong side against France and a more experimental line-up at home to Panama on Tuesday.

These two friendlies take place ahead of Coleman resuming talks with the Football Association of Wales over a new contract.

Coleman said: “It’s either going to happen or it’s not – and that time will come after this camp.

“I can’t afford to be thinking about something else, all I need to think about is preparing the team.

“I can’t deny the feeling is a bit different, because we’re playing for pride.

“That, of course. means a lot but for a long time now we’ve been playing for points.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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