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Captain Rhys reveals his Boro pride
RHYS WILLIAMS wants to be the man who leads Middlesbrough back to the Premier League after being named the club's new captain.
Williams' first competitive game as full-time skipper ended in victory at Bury on Saturday when Boro progressed to the second round of the Capital One Cup.
A decent run in the cups is something the Australia would like to enjoy this season but he knows the priority has to be maintaining a successful promotion charge.
Williams was part of Tony Mowbray's team which started the Championship strongly only to fall away and out of contention, eventually ending outside of the play-off places.
But Mowbray has made significant changes to his squad over the summer and is still hoping to add Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran and free agent striker Ricardo Fuller to his ranks.
Whatever further changes are made, Williams already knows he will lead the team in to the new Championship campaign which will open up with a trip to Barnsley this Saturday.
And, speaking about his appointment for the first time, the Middlesbrough captain told The Northern Echo he is determined to end a four-year-stay outside of the top-flight by sealing a return to the Premier League next May.
"Obviously I would love to lift that trophy at the end," said Williams. "The gaffer is excited by what he has brought in, so we just have to work on keeping teams out and scoring like we have been in pre-season.
"We can't keep using next year, next year, we hope it is this year. This has to be the year we deliver. This club can't be out of the Premier League for much longer, it is a club deserving of a higher league.
"It was a proud day for me when the manager asked me to be captain. I will wear it with pride and I will try to bring the lads through with me. I am delighted to have been asked. It was a proud day and now I just want to take this club back up."
His association with the Riverside Stadium aided by a talent which has caught the eye of many Premier League clubs helped convince Mowbray to hand him the captain's armband.
"The manager had mentioned I could be captain a little while ago," said Williams. "He had said I was in his plan with a couple of others. I had to show I was ready for it.
"I now feel like I have to grow up more quickly. I am still young and hopefully I can get in to the role as soon as possible. I do feel an old head now, the young lads can look up for me."
As well as closing in on the extra midfielder and striker, Mowbray has also handed Swiss goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler a contract and has invited Dutch winger Romeo Castelen back for a further trial.
The extent of the changes is likely to mean Middlesbrough will find it hard to hit top form immediately, although Williams is satisfied the new additions are shaping the team up well.
"It was the first time a lot of us had played together at Bury," said Williams, who is also getting used to playing alongside Jonathan Woodgate at the heart of the defence.
"We could all work on a lot still. It was my man (Mark Hughes) from the set piece at Bury for their goal and hopefully I can sort that out and we can all play together better.
"The starting line up had five new players. It was good that we got to play together before the league started. Hopefully we will be even better when we start at Barnsley.
"There's still stuff to work on but it was brilliant that we went through in the League Cup even though we were not at our best."
* Boro fans can meet Jonathan Woodgate and Lukas Jutkiewicz this afternoon when club sponsors Ramsdens officially open their new store in Middlesbrough town centre (between 2pm and 3pm).
Ramsdens are celebrating the opening of the new branch on Gilkes Street, between Captain Cook Square and Cleveland Centre, with an easy-to-enter Boro tickets competition.
To mark the recent opening of Ramsdens' 100th store, there are 100 tickets to be won for Boro's opening Championship home game against Burnley on Tuesday, August 21.
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