Interim boss Mark Venus handed the armband to former England defender and local hero Jonathan Woodgate ahead of last week's win against Doncaster.

But Venus remains confident Williams, 25, will bounce back from the disappointment, with a ticket to Brazil a powerful incentive to deliver on the pitch.

“Rhys is working hard,” the caretaker manager told UK's Northern Echo.

“He should have a good summer ahead of him. His country are going to Rio, and as far as I'm concerned, he should be performing to his very best to try to get in that team so he can go and enjoy the spectacle of a World Cup.

Woodgate's previous captaincy of the side was scuppered by injury but Venus told Boro's official website why the 33-year-old veteran was the ideal choice to lead the team.
"Woody epitomises this football club," Venus said. "He's from the area, he's played at the highest level, he came back here and he commands respect from all the players.

"He's an absolute winner, he's a great pro and if that doesn't tick enough boxes to be captain, I don't know what does."

Williams who was captain under former coach Tony Mowbray won't necessarily be stepping back into the role if Woodgate is sidelined through injury.

"Jonathan is going to be the football club captain now and when he doesn't play I'll just pick someone to wear the armband," Venus said.

"When Woody plays he'll wear it and he's the captain for all the off the field things that happen and all the discussions between me and him."

Middlesbrough lost 1-0 to Blackburn overnight and sit 16th on the Championship table.