Wales boss Chris Coleman has expressed his support for Ashley Williams and has backed the under-fire Everton defender to silence his critics this season.
Williams has largely struggled with the Toffees since the start of the campaign and was dropped by caretaker manager David Unsworth for the 3-2 win over Watford on Sunday.
The 33-year-old also faced criticism from some Wales supporters last month after his error allowed the Republic of Ireland to score a winning goal which ended Welsh hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
However, Coleman has named Williams in his squad for the upcoming friendlies against France and Panama and insists the veteran defender still remains firmly in his plans moving forward.
“There may be a change in his heart where he will want to do two more campaigns but he will want to do one more campaign probably,” Coleman said ahead of Friday’s friendly with France in Paris.
“He is a captain for a reason, he never misses games or training and has a real appetite for football. If you play long enough and play enough games you are going to have a bad patch.
“Your character is what makes you stronger and there is no doubt in my mind he will come through it. Look where Everton are, they need fighters and they have got one in him for sure.”
Highlights of the Group D World Cup qualifier clash between Wales and Republic of Ireland
Williams was accused of showing disrespect to Welsh supporters when he headed straight down the tunnel after the 1-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland in October.
However, Coleman insists the defender’s reaction was purely down to disappointment.
“He was absolutely crushed because I think he felt like me after that Republic game that we are never going to get to a World Cup,” said Coleman, who will resume contract talks with the Welsh FA after this month’s friendlies.
“He looks at it as if he was involved with the goal because of his mistake, but my words were to him that is one.
“You look at that in isolation, but we had 10 games where he has been a rock again.
“He came off the pitch and he was inconsolable – he was a broken man and in another place.
“But Ash would never ever show disrespect. He would be the last person to do that because he knows the importance of having the whole nation behind him as the captain of the team.”