Wales manager Ryan Giggs says Manchester United winger Daniel James is no diver and needs extra protection from referees.
James was booked for simulation on his first United start in Monday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Wolves, his every touch booed thereafter by the Molineux faithful.
But Giggs said 21-year-old speedster James – who scored on his United debut as a substitute in the opening-day 4-0 win over Chelsea – needs greater protection after being fouled several times at Wolves.
“You’ve seen he gets kicked a lot,” Giggs said after naming James in his 26-man squad for next month’s crunch Euro 2020 qualifier against Azerbaijan in Cardiff.
“Sometimes when you anticipate it, it can look live a dive. The speed he’s going at it can look worse, but I’m not worried about that.
“He gets a lot of stick and referees need to protect him.
“I watched a lot of the pre-season games and he did well as he usually plays on the left.
“It gives me a different option as well if he’s playing his club football on the right. If I want to do that I can.”
While James has settled in well at United following his £15million move from Swansea, Wales’ talisman Gareth Bale has had a difficult summer at Real Madrid.
The 30-year-old forward had a public fallout with manager Zinedine Zidane and was on his way to the Chinese Super League until a lucrative move collapsed at the last minute.
Bale is now back in Zidane’s plans and started Real’s opening league game last weekend, making the first goal in a 3-1 win against Celta Vigo.
“I kept in touch with him (over the summer) to see if he was all right,” Giggs said.
“It was a strange situation but hopefully now it’s sorted out – Gareth stays and plays games.
“It’s obviously positive at the moment, I’m really pleased with the situation and looking forward to meeting up.”
Asked whether Bale’s Wales career would have proved difficult had he moved to China, Giggs added: “It wouldn’t have been ideal.
“It’s a preference for your players to be in Europe with the travelling and the different calendars, but I’d still have picked him.”
Bale will captain Wales in the absence of veteran defender Ashley Williams, who has been left out of the squad as he is currently unattached after being released by Everton in June.
Giggs also confirmed that Bale is Wales’ designated penalty-taker, thus avoiding the situation at his former club United where Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford have taken spot-kicks this season.
Aaron Ramsey has previously taken penalties for Wales – converting efforts in Scotland and Serbia – when Bale has not been on the pitch.
Paul Dummett’s international career looks over after he made himself unavailable for Wales duty, the second time the Newcastle defender has done that by saying he wanted to focus on his club football.
Dummett ruled himself out in May 2017 under previous Wales boss Chris Coleman before returning 15 months later, and Giggs said: “I think that will be it.
“I’m not fussed about that. He’s playing in the Premier League, he’s a good defender, but I’ve got options.”
Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Davies (Stoke City); Defenders: Chris Gunter (Reading), Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur), Neil Taylor (Aston Villa), Connor Roberts (Swansea City), Ethan Ampadu (RB Leipzig, on loan from Chelsea), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Tom Lockyer (Charlton Athletic), James Lawrence (Anderlecht), Joe Rodon (Swansea City); Midfielders: Aaron Ramsey (Juventus), Joe Allen (Stoke City), Jonny Williams (Charlton), Harry Wilson (Bournemouth, on loan from Liverpool), Matthew Smith (QPR, on loan from Manchester City), Daniel James (Manchester United), Will Vaulks (Cardiff City), Joe Morrell (Lincoln City, on loan from Bristol City); Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Sam Vokes (Stoke City), Tom Lawrence (Derby County), Ben Woodburn (Oxford United, on loan from Liverpool), Ryan Hedges (Aberdeen), Kieffer Moore (Wigan Athletic).
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Giggs names his squad for next month’s Euro 2020 qualifier at home to Azerbaijan on Wednesday, with Wales playing catch-up in Group E after away defeats to Croatia and Hungary in June.
Wales are six points behind leaders Hungary, albeit with a game in hand, and three adrift of Croatia and Slovakia.
Beating Azerbaijan in Cardiff on September 6 is essential to keeping Wales’ hopes of a top-two spot alive – and boss Giggs has had good news over his key pair.
Bale is suddenly back in favour at Real Madrid after a summer when he had a very public fall-out with manager Zinedine Zidane and appeared to be heading for the Chinese Super League.
The 30-year-old forward started Real’s first league game of the season last weekend and claimed an assist in the 3-1 win at Celta Vigo.
Ramsey is also fit after recovering from a hamstring injury and made his debut for new club Juventus in a friendly at Triestina last Saturday.
The new Serie A season starts this weekend and Giggs will be hoping that Ramsey – who has missed Wales’ opening three Euro 2020 qualifiers due to the injuries which blighted the end of his Arsenal career – gets some game-time before reporting for international duty.
Bournemouth forward David Brooks is out of the Azerbaijan game and will also miss the October qualifiers against Croatia and Slovakia after undergoing ankle surgery earlier this month.
But Harry Wilson, now on loan at Bournemouth from Liverpool, and new Manchester United winger Daniel James have both made scoring starts to their Premier League careers.
Speaking about James at a recent Salford City sponsorship launch, Giggs said: “I am excited because I know what he’s capable of.
“A year or so ago he was on loan at Shrewsbury but in the last six months I’ve seen a massive change in him mentally and physically.
“Like any young winger he’s going to be up and down.
“But when he’s on fire he is very difficult to stop and I think in a lot of games this year United fans will be excited.”
Ethan Ampadu, on a season-long loan at RB Leipzig from Chelsea, will return to the squad after missing the June double-header with a back injury.
But Giggs has concerns in central defence as captain Ashley Williams, who turns 35 this week, has been without a club since being released by Everton at the end of last season.
James Lawrence is also out in the cold under new Anderlecht boss Vincent Kompany and Chris Mepham was dropped to the Bournemouth bench last weekend.
Dani Alves scored on his debut for Sao Paulo FC on Sunday in a Brazilian League match against Ceara.
Alves – who has taken the No.10 jersey and played as an offensive midfielder – received a pass from Juanfran, another new signing from Atletico Madrid, and scored the match’s only goal.
Sao Paulo FC are five points behind leaders Santos, who are led by former Argentina World Cup coach Jorge Sampaoli in sixth.
Dani Alves’ contract with PSG expired in July, though the Brazilian said then he would like to remain in Europe.
The right-back was Brazil’s captain in the latest Copa America title-winning campaign held in his native country. He was also voted by organisers as the best player of the tournament.
Yes, I was nervous, had chills down my spine because the expectations from fans in me were very high,” said Alves. “And I will look to give back this way, with my work, trying to help, do what I always do.
“Obviously, to come back to Brazil, feel this warmth from fans here it is like if it was my first time. I am happy to come to Sao Paulo, to be here and to fight with my teammates.”
Watch the video of Alves’ goal above.