Ryan Giggs announced his squad for the final Nations League clash against Denmark and an away friendly in Albania to finish 2018. The biggest surprise was the call-up of the unknown defender, James Lawrence. Neil Taylor returns to the squad, as does Dan James and Tom Lockyer.
Who is James Lawrence?
“We were made aware of him over the last six months or so. He’s played the majority of his career abroad.
“Albert [Stuivenberg] has watched him a couple of times, I’m looking to see him up close in training.”
“He fits the profile of what I want to play, he’s good with the ball at his feet. He’s playing regular football and fits exactly how we want to play.”
“His grandmother is from Haverfordwest, that’s how he qualifies for Wales.
“Someone at the Welsh FA made us aware of him, we will always check them out and see if they’re good enough.”
Chris Gunter potentially winning record caps this month:
“When he does get there [93 caps] and beats the record, it’ll be a fantastic achievement. He is someone who deserves all the plaudits he gets.
“He’s been brilliant to have around the squad, a good pro and is ready to be called upon like he did against Ireland. He’s a valuable member.”
“There’s great competition for places – during the week in training; it’s what I had as a player and we have that in our camp at the moment.
“It will be on my mind for Chris to break the record against Albania, but we have to look at the overall picture. Whether it will be in November or March we will have to wait and see.”
Neil Taylor’s return:
“Taylor has been unlucky for the past few squads, I know him and have played with him.
“He’s a popular member of the squad and playing regular football for Aston Villa. It gives Ben Davies a chance to have a rest over that period [because of his suspension].”
“Ben was disappointed not to be involved with Albania, but there’s a chance for him to take part in light training with Tottenham and get some rest.
“He’s played constantly since the summer, so it will be good for him to have a break.”
“Paul Dummett and Neil Taylor are very good replacement players for us to have when Ben is not available.
“Paul would have played in the last set of matches, it’s a shame he had to pull out because of his injury.”
Tough time for Gareth Bale in Spain:
“I’ve not seen many of the Real Madrid games this season, but we’re talking about a world-class player who never lets his country down. Hopefully, he’ll be meeting with us on Sunday.”
“He doesn’t need extra help, he’s been at Madrid for 5 years, I had stick at times at Man Utd. That’s something Gareth is used to dealing with.”
“He can’t wait to join up with the lads and be a part of the game. He’s an experienced player, he’s been there and experienced most things as a player.”
Dan James’ excellent form and embedding young players:
“He’s on fire at the moment and he’s someone who has got genuine pace. He’s exciting and he could start or act as an impact sub.
“We had him in the training camp before Mexico, he was unlucky to not travel to LA, but it will be good to have him with us now.”
“You always want players joining the squad who are playing regularly, especially forward players; if they’re confident and doing well it can make the difference.”
“It’s important to get the balance of the squad right [with youth and experience]. Exposing the younger players to play against Ireland in Dublin and Spain at home will hopefully stand us in good stead.”
“You saw with Matt Smith who made the mistake early on, he was helped by the more experienced players through the game.”
Matt Smith potentially missing Albania for a club game:
“That’s something we have to monitor in the next week or so.
“It’s a juggling act because we have a massive game on the Friday against Denmark and he’s a huge part of our squad.”
“We’ll have dialogue with Matty and the club and see how it goes.”
A chance to win the Nations League group v Denmark:
“I already knew they were a very good team, but we were in the game up until the penalty.
“It’ll be tough for us and Denmark, but we’re back at the CCS with a great atmosphere. It’s a really important game for us because we have a chance to win the group.
“I’m looking forward to it, as are the players to make it as difficult as possible for Denmark.”
“We are looking for the players to perform, it is a cup final – if we win, we top the group. There’s another chance for the Euro’s, we’ll be in Pot A and there’ll be financial rewards as well.”
“I’ve really enjoyed the Nations League, the fans have as well because it’s been really competitive.
“Like I’ve said, it gives us a big opportunity to win things if we win this game.”