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Williams: 'LOI boys could play in Championship'

FORMER League of Ireland star - and current Championship regular - Shaun Williams has dismissed claims that the current breed of Airtricity League players can't cut it in England.

And the Millwall midfielder, who played in Ireland for Drogheda United, Finn Harps and Sporting Fingal, says that more players in the domestic league have the ability to play at Championship level.

"I don't agree with a lot of what's been said about the league in the last few weeks. I played with a lot of players in the league back home who are good enough to play in the Championship," says Williams, who moved to England in 2011 and is now a regular for Millwall.

"I play in the Championship every week, I know the standard and I know for a fact that players back home in Ireland could play here. I have honestly come up against players in this league over here where I know in my heart that there are players back in Ireland who are better. A lot of it is down to luck.

"I know the League of Ireland doesn't help itself with the fan-base. It is different over in England - Portsmouth are in League Two and they get 15,000 or 20,000 people at their games, you'd struggle to get anything near that in the League of Ireland, you see top of the table matches in the league, Dublin derbies, with only 3,000 there. We'd get more than 3,000 at a pre-season friendly.

"I saw Keith Fahey saying he could play League Two football with his eyes closed and he's right, I played with and against players in Ireland who would walk it in League Two.

"I watch a lot of the League of Ireland games, I saw a few matches when I was home for the summer, and I know how good players in Ireland are. Conan Byrne would definitely be able to play at a higher level, Ronan Finn the same.

"But it's down to luck, in terms of whether a manager or a club likes you. Ian Holloway has asked me a few times about players in the league back home," he added.