InterviewWhy this pre-season is so important to Rhys Williams
There are multiple reasons why Rhys Williams considers this pre-season such an important one on a personal level.
The Liverpool defender is part of the group that has begun preparations for 2022-23 with a series of tests, drills and sessions at the AXA Training Centre this week.
Having made 19 appearances for the senior team in 2020-21, Williams spent the first half of last term on loan at Swansea City and then returned to the Reds to play a supporting role for Jürgen Klopp’s squad as they chased four trophies.
And the 21-year-old wants to ensure he uses pre-season to be fully prepared for either eventuality when the campaign proper arrives.
“For me, it’s important so I’m ready for whatever the gaffer wants me to do,” Williams told Liverpoolfc.com on Wednesday.
“If it’s to be around the team again, as I was in the second half of last season, or if it’s to go on loan – whatever challenges face me this year I just need to be ready for.
“You can’t sulk or throw your toys out the pram because it’s a collective group effort. There were times that I was on the bench last season and I could have been needed.
“So, I always have to keep my head on whenever I’m going to be needed and just make sure I can provide what the gaffer needs.”
On the intensity of the opening days of pre-season in Kirkby, he added: “It has been tough. The lads have all come back really fit, so getting back into it has been hard.
“But by looking at everyone after sessions it has been hard for everyone – so at least I know I’m on the same wavelength as everyone else!
“From the start of the pre-season everything is 100 per cent, it’s all nearly as good as the main season itself. Everyone comes back as sharp as they can, so that’s the biggest challenge: coming back on the same level as everyone else and making sure you’re in the right shape and you’re up to speed with the ability that everyone else is at.”
Inside Pre-season: A double session on Tuesday
Despite the first-team experience Williams has accrued during recent seasons, the No.46 remains a studious observer of his central defensive teammates in the pursuit of developing his abilities.
And he hopes to reciprocate that to his younger colleagues, too.
“You see Joe, Joel – Ibou and Virg when they’re back – it’s always good that you’ve got players like that in front of you and you’re able to learn off them,” he said. “Even Nat and Ben Davies, they’re older than me so I can take bits of their game and try to put it into mine.
“But then if younger lads come up, I can hopefully be a role model for them as well.”
Quickly looming is Liverpool’s first trip of the summer, with Klopp’s men set to travel to Bangkok this weekend for the opening leg of a tour that will also include a visit to Singapore.
The Reds will face Manchester United and Crystal Palace in friendlies during their time in Asia – opportunities for players to not just further sharpen fitness but to make their case to the manager on the pitch.
Williams said: “All the lads are looking forward to going out there; it’s not only a good experience going to play United in these countries, but also the culture side of things.
“You get to experience different things and places that we probably wouldn’t normally go if we were just off on off-season. It’s always good to go and experience these things.
“If I can impress here and then the gaffer wants me to stay, that’s a bonus. But if my game time might come somewhere else, I have to showcase what I can do on these big stages, even if it is a pre-season friendly because it’s still against massive clubs in the Premier League.”
Two of Liverpool’s three recruits for the new campaign have joined pre-season training so far, with Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay out on the grass at the AXA Training Centre.
Darwin Nunez is still to come, too, and Williams is already excited by what the trio can produce in red.
“The lads we have brought in, we have already seen with Fabio training today and yesterday, he is of a high, high standard,” finished the centre-back.
“He’s brilliant on the ball. He’s getting used to the way we want to play and the way we want to press. I think everyone the club has signed is going to have a massive impact for us.”