Geraint Williams on why Edwards’ Wales call-up is good news for Town
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town winger Gwion Edwards will have added motivation and confidence following his long-awaited return to the Wales squad.
That’s according to Blues academy coach Geraint Williams, the man who nurtured Edwards during his stint as Wales Under-21 boss.
Edwards was included in the Welsh senior set-up back in October 2014 when a Crawley Town player but didn’t make his debut.
Four years later he has finally been called up again after Ryan Giggs added him to a squad hit by withdrawals – star men Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey among those unavailable – ahead of tomorrow night’s Nations League game against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.
It follows an encouraging start to life at Portman Road for Edwards, 25, since his £700k switch from League One club Peterborough United this summer.
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“I’m really pleased for Gwion,” said the experienced Williams, whose current role sees him coach the coaches at Playford Road.
“It didn’t happen for him at Swansea, he dropped down the leagues, has come back up and is a great example to any young player that if you keep working hard you’ll get your rewards.
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“This call-up will give him a major confidence boost. No disrespect to the boys here, but the standard and quality of training will go up. He’s going to be rubbing shoulders with the elite and if you come away thinking ‘that was alright’ then you feel really good about yourself.
“In Ryan Giggs he has a manager who, given his age and position, he will no doubt look up to. Once you get a taste of it you want more and he’ll know he has to keep doing it for Ipswich Town for that to happen.”
Former Town and Wales midfielder Williams managed Colchester United and Leyton Orient during the 00s before moving into the Welsh set-up, initially as U21 boss before taking on a role as senior opposition scout for the successful Euro 2016 campaign.
“I remember Gwion scoring an equaliser when we lost 3-1 to England in a Euro U21 qualifier (2014),” he recalled. “He was always a pleasure to work with because he works so hard and loves the game.
“He loves the physical side of things. Normally with wingers you are having to demand more of that, but with him you would be saying ‘go easy on the tackling’.
“One thing you know with him is that you know you will always get 100% when he crosses that white line. I think the Ipswich fans have seen that already.
“I didn’t know he was going to be signing here. Paul (Hurst) and Chris (Doig) had only just arrived and didn’t really know me or probably realise that I had worked with Gwion in the past.
“The first I knew he was coming was when I was sitting in my office and heard someone coming down the corridor and thought ‘I know that voice!’”
Now working across the age groups in the academy, from U14s through to U23s, a big part of Williams’ role is acting as a coach mentor.
“I’m there as a sounding board for young coaches like Gerard Nash, Chris Hogg, Adem Atay and Kieron Dyer,” he explained. “They are all very open-minded to learn and improve all the time. We’re always having debriefs after sessions and bouncing ideas around.”
On Town’s new first team management duo, Williams added: “Both have been great; very welcoming, very open, very accommodating. They come and watch as much of the youth games as possible and have taken a lot of interest in the academy.
“It was a massive result at Swansea going into the international break and now we all hope that momentum can be carried forwards.”