Rhys Williams commits his future to Middlesbrough

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RHYS Williams has handed Middlesbrough a welcome boost heading into tonight’s game at Millwall after committing his long-term future to the club.

The 23-year-old penned a new four-and-a-half year deal yesterday to end speculation linking him with a move away from the Riverside Stadium.

Williams has caught the eye for Tony Mowbray’s men this season and his ability to operate in both the middle of midfield and at centre-back had made him a target for Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers among others.

But the Australia international believes he can achieve his career goals on Teesside.

“I’ve always said I wanted to stay,” he said. “I’m happy here and that’s the main thing. I’m settled and get on well with the manager and the lads.

“I’ve no reason to leave except for my dream of playing in the Premier League – and I want to get there with his club.

“My fiancée has settled here, I know the town and have a lot of friends here. I couldn’t be happier, to be honest.”

Williams only returned to action towards the back end of last season after a long-standing pelvic problem had ruled him out of the 2010 World Cup.

But the Boro Academy graduate has not looked back since and is now one of the first names on Mowbray’s team-sheet.

And he added: “The manager knows what I’m capable of and what I’m not so good at. He sees me as a vital player. I don’t want to leave and be a squad player somewhere else, I want to be hopefully a major player for this club.

“He’s shown a lot of faith bringing in Jukey (Lukas Jutkiewcz) and trying to bring more players in. He’s trying to build something here and I want to be a part of that.”

And Mowbray, too, is delighted with Williams’ decision to remain on Teesside.

“Rhys is an important cog as we move forward trying to build a team to get us into the Premier League,” he said.

“This is an important statement from the club to try to tie down one of the players we feel we can move forward with.”

Boro return to action at the New Den this evening after a free weekend because of FA Cup fixtures and Nicky Bailey (ankle) could make the substitutes bench following a lengthy lay-off.

A victory could take them back into the play-off zone having slipped to eighth over the weekend.

Kenny Jackett’s Lions were beaten 2-0 by Bolton in Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie.