DERRICK Williams says he is close to signing a new contract with Blackburn Rovers, and says the fans and manager Tony Mowbray are big influences in his keenness to prolong his stay at Ewood Park.

Williams, who helped Rovers kick-off their pre-season campaign with a 2-0 win at Hibernian yesterday, is in advanced talks over a new deal.

And, after making his Republic of Ireland debut in the summer, is excited for what the future holds for him at club and international level.

“I’m ongoing now with the contract. It’s nearly finalised,” said Williams, who has entered the last of the three-year deal he signed from Bristol City in 2016.

“It’s a great club, I love being here and I love playing for the gaffer and I love all the fans. I’m settled here and I want to do well for this club.

The defender played 82 minutes in a 2-0 defeat to France as he earned his first senior cap.

But as he prepares to return to the Championship with newly promoted Rovers, he is hoping that being back in the second tier will boost his international ambitions.

“It was a great experience with the Ireland team,” said the 25-year-old.

“It was a dream come true to make my debut. As a youngster you always dream of stuff like that. It was a great experience and a good team to do it against. It made me more driven and hungry for more.

“We’re back in the Championship now so hopefully they (Ireland scouts) get to more games and can see us play more.

“It’s only going to be a positive thing, playing against better players which you want to do in your career constantly and see how you can do.

“I’m really looking forward to attacking this season and hitting the ground running.”

And Rovers got preparations for the 2018/19 campaign off to the perfect start with a win and clean sheet at Easter Road, with both goals coming in the space of four second half minutes.

Craig Conway broke the deadlock after Rovers had a more experienced look to their line-up with wholesale changes made at half-time.

Willem Tomlinson added the second soon after.

“It was a needed 45 minutes to get the legs going again, and to get the win and clean sheet was good,” said Williams.

“I came on for the second half and we scored pretty early on and we just tried to stay on the front foot and I thought we did that well and played some good football.

“There were more senior players in the second half and I think that helped us a bit. We were able to get in some good pockets and got some good movements going.”

He added: “We can feel in the dressing room we’re all pretty confident and we’re just looking forward to starting.

“We’ve put the celebrations to bed. But we’re still confident because we’re used to winning so much. We want to try to bring that momentum and really have a good go at it.

“A lot of us have playing in the Championship before so we know what to expect. But the division’s getting harder and harder with Premier League teams coming down with big parachute payments so it’s going to be tough. We’ve just got to back how we want to play and how the gaffer wants us to play and give it our all.”