Williams backed to produce positive response to Middlesbrough skipper snub (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Williams backed to produce positive response to Middlesbrough skipper snub
MARK VENUS has backed Rhys Williams to bounce back from the disappointment of losing the Middlesbrough captaincy to cement his place in Australia's World Cup squad.
Williams was shorn of the captain's armband ahead of Friday's win over Doncaster, with Jonathan Woodgate taking over leadership duties.
Venus feels that Woodgate's affiliation with his hometown club and experience of playing for the likes of Real Madrid and England make him the ideal skipper.
However, Williams remains a valuable first-team asset, and with the carrot of a potential World Cup appearance in Brazil next summer to keep him focused and on track, Venus expects the 25-year-old to respond positively to any perceived slight.
“Rhys is working hard,” said Boro's caretaker boss. “He should have a good summer ahead of him. His country are going to Rio, and as far as I'm concerned, he should be performing to his very best to try to get in that team so he can go and enjoy the spectacle of a World Cup.
“He's got some things to think about and a lot of hard work in front of him. He should be wanting to cement his place in that squad and play in that tournament.”
Woodgate has skippered Boro before, but his chequered injury record meant that Tony Mowbray looked elsewhere for a club captain.
Venus places great stock in the identity of his skipper, regarding him as a crucial on-field link between the manager and the rest of the squad, and as soon as he was appointed as Mowbray's successor, he was only ever going to choose one man.
“There's a responsibility that goes with being a captain, and I don't think every player can carry that responsibility,” he said. “You have to play well every week and lead the team. You have to lead by example, and it is a big responsibility whatever anyone says.
“I just think with Jonathan, it's right for the club at the moment that he does that job. All the others can look up to him.
“I think he just epitomises the football club to be honest. He's from the area and he's played at the very highest level of the game. I'd like a lot of my footballers to want to play to the standards he's played at in his career.”
Nevertheless, while Woodgate is expected to lead by example, that does not prevent Boro's other senior players from having leadership responsibilities.
“Everyone has to take responsibility for their jobs on the field,” said Venus. “The captain is the captain of the club, so any decisions that get made from the dressing room, he speaks to me on the players' behalf and we come to a conclusion together.
“He has a few different roles in the club, but I want everyone to take more responsibility on the pitch. I don't think they've taken enough responsibility individually since I've been here. They have to start.”
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