Ashley Williams was “magnificent” in Wales’ 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday, according to manager Ryan Giggs.
The veteran defender’s performances for both country and club side Stoke City have come in for criticism of late – but he produced an assured display in the heart of the Welsh defence in Dublin.
Wales were without star men Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey but their young squad managed to claim a 1-0 win thanks to Harry Wilson’s superb free kick.
Giggs was happy with the performance of his team but singled out 34-year-old Williams for individual praise.
“Outstanding, man of the match by a million miles,” said Giggs.
“I wasn’t happy with the first-half performance – he was the only one really who showed the things I was looking for, winning challenges. “He was just magnificent, a real captain’s performance.
“I get asked all the time about the younger players coming in but the older, experienced players are just as important, and they showed that.
“I said that to the players: ‘They’re the players you’ve got to look up to.’ A lot of good performances but his stood out.”
Wales moved to the top of group B4 as a result of the victory and are two points clear of Denmark, who have a game in hand.
Williams’ Stoke side come up against Birmingham in the Championship on Saturday and are 2.05 to come out on top. The Blues can be backed at 3.80 and a draw is 3.40.