How Joe Williams became Bristol City’s Mr Reliable after overcoming injury troubles

Joe Williams is now able to play consecutive games for Bristol City after a period of caution because of injuries.

Joe Williams believes his injury troubles are behind him, following several setbacks at Bristol City over recent years.

The midfielder has long struggled with hamstring problems, which has led to his game time being carefully managed by manager Nigel Pearson.

The 25-year-old completed a full 90-minutes just seven times in the EFL Championship last term and is already just one full game off matching that record this campaign – with 29 league matches still to play.

Williams has become an integral part of the Robins midfield this season and has now started their last four matches.

“Obviously everyone knows how frustrating of a time I’ve had,” he said. “But I’ve always known before I came here I’ve done 40 games, 40 games, 38 games, I’ve always known I can play (consecutive games) and in my mind that didn’t change.

“I didn’t doubt myself at any point that I could do back-to-back games, I was just unlucky. I’ve said it loads and Dave (Rennie) and all the physios have been brilliant with me.

“We’ve corrected a few things that I’ve felt like I probably wasn’t doing so well in the gym and stuff like that and now I feel probably the best I’ve felt physically, I don’t think that’s a problem for me anymore, to be honest.”

In recent times, the midfielder has largely played under the rule of one game a week, but his ability to keep going in the middle of the park on a more regular basis has evidently improved of late.

This pre-season was the first that Williams had completed injury free for three years, which is something that he believes is key to his upturn in fitness.

“I’ve had my head down, I think it was my first good pre-season that I’ve had in I don’t know how long,” he said. “So I’ve had a good pre-season and I’m feeling really good, I’m enjoying being fit and the past is the past, we are just here and now now aren’t we so just crack on.”

His return couldn’t have come at a better time for the Robins, who are far from spoiled for choice in central midfield. Matty James has missed nine matches through injury this season already, while Han-Noah Massengo has been in and out of the squad as his future looks set away from Bristol.

Veteran midfielder Andy King has filled in at times, but the 33-year-old has been unable to play regular part in the middle, and Ayman Benarous has been side-lined with injury all season.

Alex Scott has been the only other mainstay in the City midfield and has missed just one of their 19 matches in all competitions so far – which was through suspension.

A recent illness in the Robins Camp means they could be even lower on midfield numbers for this weekend’s match against Swansea City. 19-year-old Dylan Kadji has featured three times for the Robins this season, while fellow young midfielder Omar Taylor-Clarke has been training with the senior squad this week.

Williams, who is one of the leaders of the group, feels that he and the rest of the squad had a responsibility to help guide the young talent.

“I just say to them just come up and work hard and do what you can do to try and impress people, you’re not here to make friends, you’re here to get in that first team,” he said.

“You’re here to try and impress people and when you get in there (the first team) stay in there, so that’s the only real message that I’d say to them.”