With Jonny Williams long-awaited loan move from Crystal Palace confirmed, Eagles supporter Matt Woosnam reveals what we can expect from the 21-year-old Welsh midfielder

“Our David Silva,” Ian Holloway once responded when asked about Jonathan Williams.

He wasn’t far wrong, but injuries have taken their toll on one of the brightest talents to ever emerge from Crystal Palace’s academy, and he has featured sparsely since breaking his leg on Wales Under-21 duty in 2011.

Nonetheless, under Dougie Freedman, he has the opportunity to find his feet once again, to pick up where he left off at Ipswich Town before another injury set him back.


Joniesta — as he was named by then academy player Dan Pringle, in reference to Barcelona star Iniesta — will bring energy and excitement into the Nottingham Forest midfield. His driving runs and eye for a pass are a joy to behold, but he must first regain his confidence after a career so far defined by injuries and potential.

One thing that the Welsh wizard is unlikely to add by himself is goals, but with the right players around him he will add assists to the side. Most of all he will inject pace and positivity.

Williams is an attack-minded midfielder, and while not the strongest or the biggest, he will put himself about, challenge for the ball and will always put in maximum effort for the cause, regardless of any fear for a further injury.

When he burst onto the scene, Selhurst Park was buzzing with anticipation at what this small but skilful midfielder could do with the ball; it was a welcome addition of flair and positive movement forward. The ball sticks to his feet like glue and he is excellent in possession, although could do more when not on the ball, but his regular forays into the final third of the opposing end of the pitch will bring entertainment to the City Ground.

His last appearance in a Palace shirt at first-team level came in a 3-2 defeat by Newcastle United in the third round of the Capital One Cup last season, with his last Premier League appearance coming against Burnley a week-and-a-half previously. It is telling that he has appeared just 68 times in red and blue, compared to fellow academy graduate Wilfried Zaha who is nearing 200 Palace appearances. But that is not for a lack of talent, as Williams undoubtedly oozes that, it is the fitness and injury concerns – not all from bad challenges – which underpin his struggle to break into the Eagles set-up.

A fully-fit Jonny Williams would be an asset to any Championship side, and although it will take time to reach his optimum fitness levels, I have little doubt that Forest fans will be left mesmerised by this young man’s quick footwork and intelligent passes, among other things.

His loan spells with Ipswich left many Tractor Boys supporters clamouring for his permanent return to Portman Road, but it seems he still has time to force his way into the reckoning at Palace. However, he must be carefully managed and there is no better man to do that than his former mentor Dougie Freedman.

On a personal level, Williams is likeable, polite and approachable. He appears not to suffer from the affliction of self-obsession that some stars who are built-up at a young age are. He has on several occasions returned to watch his friends in the Under-21 or Under-18 sides whilst he spent time on the sidelines, and stopped to chat with fans too.

Forest have a player with much potential but yet to fulfil it due to injury. Should he be able to get a run of games under his belt, it may be that he begins to show the Championship just what he is capable of.

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