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Republic call up would be a dream for Millwall's Shaun Williams

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Shaun Williams of Millwall

Shaun Williams of Millwall

Shaun Williams of Millwall

THE FANS at Millwall have shown their approval of the efforts of Shaun Williams with the Lions in that has been a troubled season for the club, Dubliner Williams practically owning their player of the month award.

But it's the validation of one man in particular that matters for Williams. He has won trophies and appeared in European football from his spell in Ireland and played in big games since his move to Championship club Millwall from MK Dons 11 months ago, but an international career is still very much on the agenda for the former League of Ireland star.

Occasionally described as the best uncapped Irish player in England, Williams has stood out this season in a Millwall side who are just outside the relegation zone. He has been tracked by the Irish management team before and both Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have turned up at the New Den to see Irish players in action.

A Friday night kick off this evening for the Lions' game at home to Bolton - who have Ireland U21 cap Conor Wilkinson in their side at the moment - offers the FAI team a chance to see what the Championship has to offer.

And while Williams, now 28, admits that time is not on his side, his dream of wearing green remains intact.

"Playing in the Premier League and playing for my country are big ambitions of mine, and I won't stop until that happens. I am still only 28 and I won't give up hope," Williams told The Herald.

"Ireland tend to have players who are late developers, lads like Keith Andrews and Stephen Quinn were well into their careers when they won their first caps. I don't know if it's realistic for me to talk about playing for Ireland but I can hope that it happens for me, and I won't relax on that front until I get a couple of caps under my belt.

"And it's a good sign that Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane come to see so many Championship games, the FAI have someone at the Millwall games a fair bit to keep an eye on Fordey and that can only help players like me," added Williams, who may have fluffed his lines on one occasion when the Ireland boss came spying.

"I don't think you can just step up your game just because the Ireland manager, or Roy Keane, is in the stands. One time I found out before our match, against Sheffield Wednesday, that Martin O'Neill was coming to see us and I missed a penalty so it was no real help to me. It is good if the Ireland boss comes to see you but you should be doing your best week in week out anyway," says the former U23 cap, Williams with an insight into the Ireland camp by virtue of having David Forde as a club-mate.

"Fordey has been a big help to me in terms of Ireland. He would tell me when the squads are being named, he tells me to keep hoping, that it will happen for me sooner than later, he encourages me to keep going and keep playing well and it's great for me to hear that from Ireland's No. 1," says Williams.

Having moved to Millwall from MK Dons last January, Williams easily adapted to life in England's second tier after a spell in League One, and his own displays this season have been impressive.

"My form has been good here, I have won the club's player of the month award three months in a row now. That's nice to have, especially as the award comes from the fans, if the supporters think you're doing well then you must be doing something right, especially as our crowd are not the easiest to please," says Williams.

"The season has gone well for me, though I should have a few more goals scored by now. We've only had two penalties all season, and I scored one from open play as well. I have been hitting the target but the goals just haven't gone in for me.

"It's hard to get wins and goals when you're down at the wrong end of the table. I can't enjoy the few monthly awards that I have won as it's a team game, it doesn't matter that much if I do well but we lose the game, it's no use to the club if I play well and we end up losing," he says, stressing that his club do not plan to stay in the bottom half of the table.

"The club still want to get into the Premier League. We started off so well, we won our first two league games and people were talking about promotion and the playoffs this season, but then we fell away. A couple of wins over the Christmas period could see us move up the table and see where we can go from there," added Williams. Big ambitions for club and for country, the second half of the season could be a good one for the Irish Lion.

Afitzmaurice@herald.ie