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Lions in capture of Irish 'Iniesta'

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Shaun Williams. Picture: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE...ABC

Shaun Williams. Picture: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE...ABC

Shaun Williams. Picture: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE...ABC

EVEN BEFORE he has kicked a ball for his new club, the pressure is on Irishman Shaun Williams at Championship side Millwall.

Lions boss Ian Holloway has put his money where his mouth is after a long-standing interest in MK Dons player Williams bore fruit in the last 24 hours.

Millwall have secured the former Drogheda United and Sporting Fingal man on a two-and-a-half year deal, at a cost of around £300,000.

But Holloway has also given Williams a lot to live up to, with the claim that, "I see him as an Iniesta, Xavi or a Charlie Adam type", comparisons that slightly embarrass the Malahide lad.

"All I want to do is do well for myself and for the team, I won't compare myself to the likes of Iniesta, not yet anyway. Especially as I haven't played in midfield for around two years," says Williams, who has been in superb form as a free-scoring centre-half for MK Dons this season with a strike rate – 10 goals in 32 games, many of them from the penalty spot – which most strikers would envy.

"I won't let that talk about Xavi get to me, I will take things as they come and do as well as I can here.

"Moving up a league is an added bonus for me. I was at MK Dons for a few years and I was happy there, but I wanted to play at a higher level and, when I spoke to the Millwall manager, he sold it to me very well," Williams told the Herald following the completion of the deal yesterday.

MK Dons have certainly done well out of their decision to sign Williams on a free from Sporting Fingal in 2011, though his debut for the Dons was delayed for months by red tape related to the collapse of the Dublin club.

Williams was soon able to establish a reputation for himself as one of the most talented Irish players outside of the top two English divisions.

Contract

Promotion was the aim but that never materialised and, given that the Dons could struggle to make the League One play-offs this season and the fact that he was out of contract at the end of the season, the club sold him to a Millwall side who are currently just one place above the relegation zone.

MK Dons have mainly used Williams as a centre-half but Holloway sees the Dubliner in a midfield role, with a debut against Bolton tonight on the cards.

"The chance to play in midfield again was one of the reasons I came here, I didn't want to waste away at centre-half, I got bored playing there and this will be a challenge," he says.

"I did have a nice scoring record this season, but I could have had more."

Keeping Millwall in the Championship is the main aim, but he has longer term ambitions.

Until now, his only international experience was a spell in the U23 squad, but some observers have for some time been tipping Williams for a senior call-up, something that could now happen given that he has moved out of the third tier.

"It is an aim for me to play for Ireland, but it's not on my mind at the minute," he says.

"I have to take it step by step and for now, getting established in the Millwall side is the goal, if I can do that and I play well then an international call might not be far away."


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