Euro 2020 qualifier: Giggs does not regret 'streetwise' comment over James incident

By Michael PearlmanBBC Sport Wales
Daniel James
Ryan Giggs said Daniel James was being "streetwise" when he stayed down after a collision against Croatia
Euro 2020 qualifier: Azerbaijan v Wales
Venue: Bakcell Arena, Baku Date: Saturday, 16 November Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Cymru & updates on the BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Wales boss Ryan Giggs says he does not regret saying Daniel James was "being streetwise" in staying down after a clash of heads against Croatia.

Giggs says he "could have worded it a little bit differently" when reflecting on his post-match comments which brain injury association Headway's chief executive called "shocking".

Giggs defended Wales' medical staff and says he was disappointed by criticism.

"They are questioning an outstanding medical department," he said.

James needed treatment after an aerial challenge with Domagoj Vida during Wales' last Euro 2020 qualifier on 13 October, a 1-1 draw with Croatia, though the winger says he was not knocked out.

"I say about players being smart... he stayed down, he was fine," Giggs said at the time.

However, Headway chief executive Peter McCabe criticised the way James' injury was handled.

"Ryan Giggs' claim that the player was being 'streetwise' by staying down and appearing to have been knocked out is shocking," he said.

"If that is the case and James was acting, it raises serious questions about the player's understanding of the seriousness of concussion.

"Not only has he put his own medical team under intense and unfair scrutiny, but he's also set a dangerous example for the millions watching at home.

"It is simply not acceptable for teams to use concussion protocols for tactical gain."

Giggs says that while he understands Headway's reaction, he feels the organisation should have contacted the Football Association of Wales to confirm the facts.

"Yeah it was [disappointing they did not contact the FAW]," Giggs said.

"Because they are questioning an outstanding medical department, they are there, they are dealing with the situation," he said.

"As a manager I should be used to it, but I am a little bit frustrated that after two good performances I am having to talk about someone who didn't get concussion."

Giggs cited Wales taking Joe Allen off with concussion in their vital World Cup qualifier with Republic of Ireland as an example of the care they give with head injuries and added that Ethan Ampadu was taken off with a head injury in the Croatia match.

"An organisation like that, not having faith in our medical department which is outstanding, which brought Joe Allen out of a game, in a huge game... nothing gets said about that, the easy target is Dan James because he plays for Manchester United. Because it creates headlines," Giggs added.

"I was quite surprised that they didn't mention Ethan (Ampadu) who did come off with a head injury [in the same game].

"I want to talk about football, I am a football manager and we've just put on two great performances, I felt, unlucky in Slovakia and the maturity we showed to come back from 1-0 down against Croatia."

Giggs did, however, admit he could have chosen his words more carefully.

"I don't know about regret, but maybe I could have worded it a little bit differently," he added.

"I question whether the Croatian media would be exactly the same if the Croatian manager had said that, I don't think (so) but it's a culture thing and I also understand that as well."

Bale 'desperate' to play for Wales

Gareth Bale celebrates a Wales goal
Gareth Bale made his Wales debut against Trinidad and Tobago aged 16 in 2006

Giggs says Real Madrid's Gareth Bale is "desperate," to play in Wales' remaining qualifiers and says Bale is "used," to the constant speculation on his future.

Wales need to win in Azerbaijan on 16 November and then beat Hungary at home to have any chance of qualifying.

They also rely on Slovakia dropping points in their remaining two matches.

Bale finished the 13 October game against Croatia in Cardiff limping, with Wales manager Ryan Giggs confirming the player had suffered a "kick on the calf."

The 30-year-old has not been named in any Real Madrid squad since returning to Spain.

Bale's inclusion in the Wales squad has been criticised in the Spanish media and speculation continues that Bale is set for a January move to China after he almost joined Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning in August.

However, Giggs believes Bale ignores the speculation and criticism.

"I think especially lately Gareth is used to the speculation and the bit of stick that he's getting," Giggs told BBC Sport Wales.

"He has done fantastically for Madrid since he has gone there: [winning] four Champions Leagues.

"Even this season he has looked really good and been one of their better players. In some parts of the press there is an agenda, but I know Gareth and he's a strong enough character to deal with that."