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Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Thursday, 27 March 2008

Swans sign Stockport's Williams

Ashley Williams

Swansea City have signed Stockport's highly-rated defender Ashley Williams on loan until the end of the season.

The 23-year-old club captain, who made his debut for Wales in their friendly in Luxembourg on Wednesday, has been tracked by the Swans for 14 months.

His form with the League Two promotion chasers has attracted interest from Championship clubs including Cardiff.

"I'm delighted to be able to sign a player with such potential as Ashley," said Swansea manager Roberto Martinez.

"It is a huge bonus that he is a huge centre-half with international recognition.

"We had a few injuries in our back line and we have an important five weeks until the end of the season.

"It is important that the boys have got extra cover and Ashley is the player we wanted."

Williams' senior career began at Hednesford Town when he was released by West Brom at the age of 16.

Although never a regular for the non-league club, he impressed enough to attract a bid from Oldham after a successful trial at Boundary Park, which Hednesford rejected.


But he was then allowed to join Stockport on a free transfer on New Year's Eve on 2003.

After breaking into the senior side at Hartlepool on March 16, 2004, his eye-catching performances saw him lift the club's Young Player of the Year award.

Following the arrival of Jim Gannon in January 2006, Ashley emerged as one of League Two's most accomplished defenders.

He won the club's Player of the Year award at the end of that season and, last year, prompting a 500,000 bid from Luton Town that the club rejected.

Having progressed to club captain, the speedy defender won his first senior Welsh cap after qualifying through his grandfather.

Williams will join up with the squad for Saturday's trip to Hartlepool.

"This is the best week of my career," said Williams.

"It's been a bit of a rollercoaster and I haven't had time to draw breath yet."

Stockport manager Jim Gannon said: "We're proud of what he's done for this club and we're delighted for him that an opportunity has arisen and that he's been able to take it."

see also
Luxembourg 0-2 Wales
26 Mar 08 |  Internationals
BBC Sport Wales coverage
24 Dec 06 |  Wales

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