by Jordan A Jones
RYAN Giggs says on-loan Stoke City defender Ashley Williams will remain as captain of Wales.
The 34-year-old was sent on loan to the Championship club from Everton earlier this summer and most recently picked up a red card in the Potters 3-0 home defeat to Wigan Athletic.
However, despite dropping down a tier, having spent seven seasons in the top flight with Everton and Swansea City, the centre-back has still been entrusted with the captain’s armband.
Manager Ryan Giggs said the defender will continue in his captaincy when he lines up for Wales against Ireland next Thursday at the Cardiff City Stadium.
“He’s been fantastic and captain since I took over.
“He’s had a tough time, he’ll come through it. He’s starting to play regular, he always enjoys coming away with Wales, he’s the captain and nothing changes in that aspect.”
Williams took over as Wales captain in 2012, replacing Aaron Ramsey as captain after Chris Coleman was appointed the manager of the Dragons.
He captained Wales to a semi-final place at the European Championships, having scored in the 3-1 victory over Belgium in the previous round.
“Ash has been fantastic since I’ve taken over, he’s a fantastic captain and leader both on and off the pitch.”
Manager Giggs believes that Williams’ time away with his country on international duty can be a help to the career of his captain.
“This group of players, the team spirit and coming away from this country, it can be a bit of an escape. Two competitive games and two important games.
“The proper stuff is now, I’m excited. I’m looking towards the game, but with an eye on the future.”
In the last meeting between Wales and Ireland, it was Martin O’Neill’s side who came out on top in the crucial World Cup qualifier, with James McClean scoring the only goal in Chris Coleman’s last competitive game as manager.
This will be the first time Giggs takes charge of a competitive fixture, but says that this new campaign is a clean slate, with the players not dwelling on the defeat back in October.
Giggs added: “I know the lads can’t wait to play Ireland, it’s not about revenge. A new start to an exciting new tournament, it’s about getting off to a good start in the Nations League.
Wales play Ireland next Thursday at the Cardiff City Stadium, before playing Denmark in Aarhus, three days later.
(Featured Image: Jon Candy)