Exclusive: Bristol City set for early summer boost with Joe Williams decision expected

Bristol City are growing in confidence that Joe Williams will commit his long-term future to the Robins, Bristol Live understands, despite competition for the out-of-contract midfielder from elsewhere in the Championship.

Williams’ deal at Ashton Gate expires next month after four years in the West Country and City made an offer to the 27-year-old at the end of 2023/24 following a campaign in which he had produced his best and most consistent football in a red and white shirt.

The Scouser has steadily improved after an injury-plagued first two seasons in BS3, having arrived for £1.25million from Wigan Athletic, and City believe that he can make further strides under Liam Manning.

Preston North End are one of the second tier clubs who have expressed an interest in Williams, whose stock in the division is high among Championship free agents, but the former Everton academy graduate looks set to report for pre-season next month at the High Performance Centre.

Williams was pictured earlier this week beginning his off-season training programme under strength and conditioning coach and fellow Huyton-raised player Lee Molyneux, wearing a City training shirt, offering a potential hint at where he saw his own loyalties beyond this summer.

Molyneux, who also came through Everton’s academy, wrote: “Bristol City footballer Joe Williams starting his off-season programme today. Combining work with myself in the gym and following sessions / runs away from me along with his nutrition.

“Quality season last year for Joe so time to step things up a level again.”

Should Williams sign, it would be a reassuring start to the summer for Manning, securing his central midfield department for the season ahead. He will be competing with Jason Knight, Taylor Gardner-Hickman and new arrival Max Bird for a place in the City team.

Experienced duo Matty James and Andy King have both left the club as free agents leaving something of a void in the dressing room and Williams staying would ensure an element of seniority remains in the squad.

It also would be one less job in the transfer market for technical director Brian Tinnion and the recruitment team given the focus on strengthening the top end of the pitch. City are in the market for a No9, a playmaker and a winger.

Scott Twine remains a prime target for the Robins after his loan spell in the second half of last season although his situation at Burnley remains a little unclear following the departure of head coach Vincent Kompany to Bayern Munich.

The Clarets are searching for a successor, with Scott Parker the current favourite, to lead their promotion drive out of the Championship and the identity of the next man in charge is likely to have an impact on opinions around Twine within Turf Moor, given the 24-year-old still has two years remaining on his contract.

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