Ryan Giggs insists Daniel James' impending move to Man United has not disrupted Wales

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James scored the winner on his first Wales start in their Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia in March.

Wales manager Ryan Giggs insists Daniel James‘ impending move to Manchester United has not disrupted preparations for their Euro 2020 qualifier against Croatia.

James was at United’s Carrington training ground on Thursday morning ahead of his transfer from Swansea, just hours before Wales flew to Osijek for Saturday’s meeting with the World Cup finalists.

The 21-year-old winger is set to complete the switch, which is understood to be in the region of £18million, including add-ons, next week after Wales’ Euro 2020 qualifier in Hungary.

“We had a relaxed day on Thursday,” Giggs said when asked if James’ United medical had forced him to miss training.

“That’s how we structured the week, to get the work in early and then Thursday was just a case of going through a few things.”

Giggs was clear last week that he did not want any of his players involved in contract talks with clubs ahead of Wales’ Euro 2020 double-header with Croatia and Hungary.

But at his press-match conference in Osijek, the United legend said: “You have to be flexible because you don’t want things weighing on players’ minds.

“So if it’s sorted it’s better for us and for the player as well. He’s fine and he’s trained well. Obviously after the terrible news (the recent death of his father Kevan) we had to be flexible.

“A lot has gone on over the last 10 days, but Dan has been fine around the group.

“We’ll have to see whether he starts for us but, if it (transfer) does happen then United are getting an exciting player that I know that Man United fans will get behind and enjoy watching.”

Giggs confirmed at Osijek’s Stadion Gradski vrt that Ben Davies is available for both Euro 2020 qualifiers after his groin surgery was postponed.

It had been previously thought that the Tottenham full-back would only play against Croatia.

Wales start the game as big underdogs given Croatia’s exemplary home record.

Croatia have never lost a European Championship qualifier at home since their first match in the competition in 1994. They have also gone 23 home games unbeaten in all competitions.

Wales also have to contend with the fierce heat in Osijek, with the temperature expected to be around 30 degrees when the game kicks-off at 3pm local time.

“It’s hard to prepare,” Giggs said. “The weather wasn’t quite like this in Wrexham.

Ryan Giggs

“We went to Portugal for some heat and the breeze cooled it down a little bit. We’ve got to make the right preparations and give the players the right information on hydrating.

“It’s an old school stadium. It has a big history and it’s always a big challenge when you come away, especially against World Cup finalists and a team which has players like (Luka) Modric.

“I was talking to Chris Mepham on the way here about my experiences as a player. The first time I went to Galatasaray as a player we were welcomed at the airport with a sign which said ‘Welcome to hell’ and there were 5,000 people there.

“You know it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s our job to silence that and turn that into pressure on the home team.”

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Gareth Southgate refuses to criticise Man City defender John Stones

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John Stones' horrendous error led to the Dutch taking a 2-1 lead.

John Stones retained the backing of England manager Gareth Southgate after his error started England’s downfall as they slipped to Nations League semi-final defeat against the Netherlands.

Fan disorder made way for a gripping clash at the sold-out Estadio D. Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes, where far fewer supporters are likely to be in attendance for Sunday’s third-place play-off against Switzerland.

England had been hoping to face Portugal in the finale and looked on course for a shot at their first trophy in 53 years as Southgate’s side reacted well to Matthijs De Ligt cancelling out Marcus Rashford’s first-half penalty.

Jesse Lingard thought he had filled the role of super-sub as he coolly turned home in the 83rd minute but joy quickly turned to despair as the Video Assistant Referee ruled out the strike for a narrow offside.

Matters would get even worse in extra-time as a shocking mistake by Stones led Kyle Walker to turn into his own net, with England then conceding a third as a Ross Barkley error allowed Quincy Promes to seal Holland a 3-1 win.

But Stones’ error was the decisive moment and former Three Lions defender Southgate refused to criticise the Manchester City defender.

Rashford's penalty put England ahead.

Rashford’s penalty put England ahead.

“I think we’ve had some players who, at the end of the season, have found it difficult in terms of amount of minutes on the pitch – and others having the complete opposite,” Southgate said.

“I think fatigue has played a part tonight, a lack of match sharpness. I’m asking them to play in a way that puts them under huge pressure at the back.

“If we didn’t play that way, we wouldn’t have got to the semi-finals we’ve got to, and we would never progress to being a top team because you saw the way Holland played that way as well.

“They also made a really poor error at the back. But I have got to be there to support John because he’s going to get criticism after tonight.

“But himself and Harry (Maguire), the way we ask them to play, they take huge strain of the game on their shoulders and they’re incredibly courageous to do that.

“So, that’s the way I believe they can play and we should play, and we didn’t lose because of how we wanted to play. The errors were uncharacteristic, really, and not errors that we would make.

“I’ve got to not overreact to those things and I have got to be there to support them in what is a difficult moment for everybody.”

Southgate also explained the reasoning behind his decision to leave all seven players involved in Saturday’s Champions League final on the bench.

Liverpool trio Jordan Henderson, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold were joined in the dugout by Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Danny Rose of Tottenham.

“In terms of the individual players, they weren’t ready to start the game,” he said.

“We wanted some young players to have the experience of a night like tonight, and they deserve that experience because they’ve been playing well.

“You can look in hindsight at some of those decisions, but we started and finished with the right people on the pitch.”

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Liverpool's Jordan Henderson admits to Champions League fatigue as England lose to Netherlands

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Jordan Henderson admits it was tough to prepare for England’s Nations League semi-final against the Netherlands after lifting the Champions League trophy five days earlier.

Defensive errors were the main reason behind a 3-1 extra-time defeat to the Dutch in Guimaraes as Gareth Southgate’s side lost a semi-final for the second successive summer.

There were shades of the loss to Croatia in the last four at the 2018 World Cup as England took the lead before being overrun and eventually slipping to defeat.

Henderson came off the bench as Southgate opted against picking any of the seven players who contested the Champions League final on Saturday.

Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Danny Rose as well as Henderson’s Liverpool team-mates Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold were named as substitutes.

Henderson told UEFA.com: “It was tough. It was a quick turnaround after the weekend – physically, mentally, emotionally I was drained after the game and it took a few days to get ready for this game.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League  Final

“But also at the same time the lads have been training a good few weeks to build up to this game as well and they deserved to play. We have a great squad as well and you’ve got to use that.”

Marcus Rashford opened the scoring with a penalty before Matthijs De Ligt made up for tripping the Manchester United forward in the box by heading in the equaliser.

Jesse Lingard thought he had scored a late winner only to see his strike ruled out by the video assistant referee for the narrowest offside decision.

In extra-time both John Stones and Ross Barkley made mistakes which led to goals – firstly a Kyle Walker own goal and then a tap-in for Quincy Promes.

There is a chance to atone for back-to-back semi-final defeats next year with the European Championships – especially with the bulk of England’s matches to be played at Wembley – and Henderson has called on the team to learn from their latest setback.

“It was two poor goals really from our side,” added the Liverpool skipper.

“Obviously we were unlucky for the offside decision, we thought that was a great time to score and we were on top at that moment.

“The last 10-15 minutes I felt we were in control and could win the game and then extra-time we conceded two poor goals from our point of view.

“It’s difficult to lose but you need to learn from the experience as best as you can and keep going. I’m sure we can keep improving and hopefully there are still many big games to come from this team.

“We just have to keep going, keep the experiences we’ve had together, good and bad, and keep working towards the goal.”

England face Switzerland in the Nations League third-place play-off on Sunday afternoon and it remains to be seen whether Southgate will make wholesale changes to the team, including possible starts for Henderson or anyone else who featured in Madrid last weekend.

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