The ambition that ties Rotherham United duo Ryan Williams and Clark Robertson

Ryan WilliamsRyan Williams
Ryan Williams
THEY were born on different continents more than 9,000 miles apart but teammates Clark Robertson and Ryan Williams are bonded by more than their Rotherham United connection.

They both want to play for their country.

Scot Robertson is proving his worth at the heart of the Millers defence after having to wait for his chance following his summer switch from Blackpool.

Australian Williams was a stand-out player in Rotherham's League One promotion campaign last season and has carried on where he left off, either as a winger or in a 'No 10' role, in the Championship.

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Neither of them made the final cut when the international squads were announced this week, but recognition surely can't be far away.

“A Scotland call is on my mind, definitely,” said left-sided Robertson who has impressed since forcing his way into the Rotherham side four games ago.

“When I signed here, it was my ambition to get into the Scotland squad. I turned down League One clubs to come to the Championship because I thought I needed to test myself at that level to get into the squad.

“Hopefully I can impress the Scotland manager, Alex McLeish. I feel I’d hold my own if I was in the squad. I feel I'm more than capable of playing in the Championship at a decent level.”

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Williams was named in the Aussie preliminary squads in the last two international breaks but didn't receive the final nod from head coach Graham Arnold. He’s on standby again this time.

“Playing for my country is something I always wanted to do as a kid,” he said. “Hopefully I do get a call-up, whenever that might be. It would be a very special day.

Clark Robertson

“They are taking note. I've just not been able to push myself in there for some reason or another.”

Robertson is an Aberdeen boy, born 25 years ago on September 5. A few weeks later in 1993, on October 28, Williams arrived in Perth along with twin Aryn.

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The flight time between the two cities is around 21 hours. Now Robbo and Willo find themselves training together in a little corner of Parkgate as part of Paul Warne's squad that stand in 18th place following  their memorable 2-1 comeback win over Swansea City last Saturday.

It's a small world.

Football is in the genes in the Williams household. Ryan, Aryn and elder brother Rhys are all pros, with Aryn, once on Burnley's books, plying his trade in India and Rhys, after a 100-plus-game career at Middlesbrough between 2007 and 2016, now in Saudi Arabia.

Robertson grew up admiring Barry Ferguson and would love to match the defensive midfielder's 45 caps. The centre-half won Scottish under-19 and U-21 honours during his time with Aberdeen but has yet to hear from McLeish.

“There haven't really been any discussions with the Scotland set-up,” he revealed. “I just need to wait and see what happens in the next couple of months.

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“If I keep playing well, hopefully the manager will come down and watch me. There's no reason why I can't force myself into that squad.”

Williams, who was part of the U-20 and U-23 set-ups Down Under until 2015, is focusing on matters at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

“To be honest with you, here is my bread and butter,” he said. “Being here and playing well is what I'm most worried about.

“If I'm playing well for Rotherham and don't get a call-up, well, that's okay. But if I do get called up then, wow, great.”

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Williams maybe has even more incentive than Robertson: sibling rivalry. Rhys has family bragging rights with his 14 caps.

The pair's club boss, Paul Warne, believes both are worthy of recognition and joining other Millers Mark Rodak (Slovakia), Ajayi (Nigeria) and Kyle Vassell (Northern Ireland) on the international stage.

“If Robbo keeps playing the way he is and has a run in the team I can see Scotland taking notice,” Warne said.

“Willo has been close to getting in for a while. If he keeps improving, he can play higher in the Championship and also hopefully for his country.”

9,068 miles, two men, one dream.

A version of this article first appeared in last week's Advertiser