Lennie Lawrence urges Jonathan Williams to stick with Wales

Jonathan Williams
Jonathan Williams made his Crystal Palace debut in August 2011

Lennie Lawrence has told Crystal Palace midfielder Jonathan Williams to resist temptations to play for England and stick with representing Wales.

England-born Williams has played for Wales Under-21 and was in the senior squad for their Euro 2012 qualifiers with Bulgaria and Switzerland.

He has yet to make his senior Wales debut but has been linked with England.

But Palace assistant manager Lawrence said: "The strong advice from me would be [for Williams] to play for Wales."

Williams is on the standby list for Wales' friendly against Norway at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, having made 13 senior Palace appearances after graduating from the club's academy.

Williams, who has represented Wales at under-17 and under-19 level, is in Brian Flynn's under-21 squad to play in Armenia in a European Championship qualifier on Tuesday, 15 November.

And Lawrence says Palace manager Dougie Freedman agrees that Williams' ambition should remain to play for the country of his parents.

"There's all sorts of rumours flying about that England are interested in him," added former Cardiff City manager Lawrence.

"But the strong advice from me would be, obviously I've still got connections in Wales, to play for Wales.

"I think [Wales manager] Gary Speed will pick him in the squad and Gary Speed will put him on the pitch when he thinks it's right.

"I would absolutely stick down that route - that's the advice from me and Dougie we'd be giving to him.

"Of course it's up to the boy and his parents."

Williams' Wales Under-21 room-mate Tom Bender is sure his friend will not follow Rhys Williams and Owen Hargreaves by leaving the Welsh set-up to represent other countries.

"There is always going to be those rumours about good young Welsh players that can play for other countries," said defender Bender.

"I speak to Jonathan quite a lot and I'm 99.9% sure he is fully committed to Wales, he is always telling me he loves playing for Wales."

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