clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Here’s Jonny! Can the return of Welshman Williams signal an upturn in Sunderland’s fortunes?

New, comment

Could Jonny Williams’ return to the first-team in the coming week or so signal a shift in our tactical approach that has been sorely needed?

Sunderland Training Session Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

In a week filled with bad news for the club, Jonny Williams’ return from a shoulder injury picked up against Milwall back in November is a rare glint of hope cast against brooding skies.

The Crystal Palace loanee hasn’t exactly set the Championship alight since joining the club during the last transfer window - in fact, he’s only made ten total appearances so far this campaign in all competitions. But that being said, Williams is exactly the kind of player we have sorely lacked in recent weeks, and his return could be just what is needed in order to bring a new dynamic in the final third of the pitch.

The diminutive attacking midfielder - if he can stay fit - can be the catalyst required to lift the club from its current precarious position. That might seem like a big ask for a 24-year-old unable to have much of an impact this campaign, but Williams fills a giant hole in the Sunderland squad, and could be just the player we need right now.

Sunderland Training Session
Ha’way Jonny lad!
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Quick, combative, and gifted with superb vision, Williams has the ability to turn defence into attack almost instantaneously. His direct movement always looks to test the opposition’s defence with both his dribbling ability and his delivery - which is, at times, exceptional.

Sunderland have plenty of industry in the middle of the park, yet offer little in the way of creativity - Williams is exactly what this side needs if we are to have little money to invest. What we do manage to scrape from the linings of the rusting war chest will likely be invested in a striker or two, yet having Williams in behind any forward will enhance their opportunity to score.

In a recent interview with SAFC.com, Chris Coleman was quick to point out that the return of the playmaker whom he handed an international debut to was eagerly anticipated:

He can [play a big role] because you can’t always kick it from the goalkeeper from back to front. There’s a time to do that, of course there is, but there’s also a time to play through midfield and you just have to find that balance.

I feel like we’ve been in some good areas where we can play through the lines and get through with a bit more conviction and focus. A player like Jonny can change the dynamics, that’s for sure, and he gets a lot of free-kicks because he commits defenders – like Duncan with his pace and energy – so for the way we want to play these two are perfect.

We haven’t had them and we won’t have Duncan for longer, unfortunately, but Jonny will be back very soon.

FBL-EURO-2016-FRIENDLY-UKR-WAL
Will Coleman utilize Williams in the same manner he did for Wales?
Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

This weekend will likely be too soon for Williams to make the first-team squad, though with our current injury crisis his inclusion wouldn’t necessarily be particularly shocking. Instead, Williams will likely find minutes next week for the U23s when they take on Leicester City on Tuesday night.

Coleman and Williams have a solid relationship, and those words of encouragement from the boss are certainly heartfelt. Williams often found himself selected by Coleman for the national side where he was utilized across the Welsh midfield and also in a more advanced role just behind the main striker - as witnessed during Euro 2016.

It’s clear to see that Coleman believes Williams to be the catalyst required in order to help alter our dismal season thus far, and his experience of working with the talented midfielder should be a good enough barometer for all of us to agree with.

Coleman clearly wants another string to his bow and Williams offers just that. A midfielder with the ability to play higher up the pitch and drive the team forward is just what we are in need of - hopefully Williams can be the man to help spark our side back into life.

If Williams can keep fit and find a run of form, his performances might just move the club back in the right direction.