Aussies Abroad: Borough impressed by Williams

Middlesbrough are hopeful of tying down prize asset Rhys Williams to a new long-term deal.

Middlesbrough are hopeful of tying down prize asset Rhys Williams to a new long-term deal.

The Australia international has come through Boro's famed Academy and has emerged as one of the finest prospects outside the Barclays Premier League.

The 23-year-old has 18 months left on his current deal and Boro want to secure him to a new deal.

Williams has attracted a great deal of attention in the past 12 months and Bolton Wanderers had a bid rejected for him in January.

The likes of Liverpool, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion are also all believed to have been keeping tabs on his situation.

The player himself had stated that he would look to leave Boro if they did get promotion this season, but now Williams is in talks over a new deal and could be set to commit his future to the Teesside outfit, which would be a huge boost to manager Tony Mowbray.

"Talks are ongoing between ourselves and the club," his agent Gary Williams said.

Middlesbrough didn't play over the weekend, with many clubs involved in FA Cup action.

Meanwhile, Adam Federici's Reading have moved up to third in the Championship after a 1-0 win over Burnley and are pushing for automatic promotion to the Barclays Premier League.

Reading, who have the equal second-best defensive record in the competition, have now won five of their last six matches. A big match with Middlesbrough looms this weekend.

Mile Jedinak's Crystal Palace are also in the Championship promotion picture after a 4-0 win over Watford lifted them to 12th, eight points out of the play-offs with 14 games remaining.

Neil Kilkenny's Bristol City have been dragged back into the relegation mire after a 3-0 defeat against Peterborough United. They have now lost four of their last five games and are just six points away from danger.

In FA Cup fifth round action, Shane Lowry was part of the Millwall side beaten 2-0 at home by Bolton while Tim Cahill didn't even make the bench in Everton's 2-0 win over Blackpool at Goodison Park.

In the Netherlands, Brett Holman was replaced after just 24 minutes as Eredivisie leaders AZ Alkmaar suffered a shock 3-0 defeat to FC Utrecht. Adam Sarota made the bench for Utrecht.

In Germany, Mathew Leckie was a first-half replacement in Borussia Monchengladbach's 2-1 win over Kaiserslautern but was himself substituted eight minutes from time.

Nikita Rukavytsya was substituted on 63 minutes as Hertha Berlin slumped to a 1-0 loss to leaders Borussia Dortmund that pushes them closer to the relegation zone. Mitch Langarak warmed the bench for Dortmund.

Meanwhile in italy's Serie B, Carl Valeri's Sassaulo are top of the table despite a 0-0 draw at home to Valese.