He’s the very definition of a fan-favourite but when speaking to the press recently, Crystal Palace midfielder Jonny Williams admitted that he couldn’t be sure if he’d still be at the club by the time the summer transfer window closes.
Known for his drifting runs and neat play in the final third, the diminutive Williams has always been looked upon as a player with enough talent to make it in the Premier League, with injuries alone curtailing his chances of making a serious mark in red and blue.
Having played a pivotal role in the side that won promotion to the Premier League in 2013, the Welsh international was obviously hoping to kick on with us in the top flight but in fact, hasn’t actually started a league game for the club since the play-off final, leading both he and the Palace faithful to wonder where his future lies.
Back-to-back shoulder injuries, coupled with loan spells at Ipswich, Nottingham Forest, MK Dons and Sunderland have seen him shuffled out of the spotlight at Selhurst Park to some extent but after playing a regular role in pre-season without any signs of a setback, there may finally be some light at the end of the tunnel for “Joniesta”.
Given the departures of Yohan Cabaye and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, we all know that the club are in need of reinforcements in the middle of the park but if players like Williams and academy star Nya Kirby are ready and able to make the step up to playing regular top flight football, we may not be in for quite as rough a ride as many had intitially feared.
I have no doubt that a fit and in form Jonny Williams is a player that Roy Hodgson would love to work with. The challenge now is for the man himself to remain injury free and available for selection for a sizeable chunk of the 2018/19 season. We’ve had too many false dawns to get that excited just yet but this pre-season has at least allowed us to imagine what life would be like with Williams playing an active role in the Premier League for Palace, which in itself feels like something of a minor miracle.
My fingers and toes are crossed for him.