Neco Williams: Ryan Giggs hopeful over Liverpool youngster

Media playback is not supported on this device

Giggs casts doubt on Robson-Kanu Wales return

Ryan Giggs hopes his willingness to play youngsters at international level will help stave off reported interest from England in "exciting" Liverpool talent Neco Williams.

Giggs is set to give Williams, 18, a chance to stake a claim for a Euro 2020 place by picking him for Wales' March friendlies against Austria and USA.

The Wales Under-19 defender has made a big impact at Liverpool this season.

"I am not afraid of playing young players," said Wales manager Giggs.

"Hopefully when players are coming through and they have a decision to make, they will see that.

"It does not matter whether they are 35 or they could be 17. It does not really matter to me. Sometimes experience can help but the exuberance of youth is huge and we have seen that."

Neco Williams celebrates with Liverpool team-mates
Neco Williams (left) celebrates with team-mates after his long ball led to Ro-Shaun Williams' own goal in Liverpool's FA Cup win over Shrewsbury on 4 February

Wrexham-born Williams made his Liverpool debut in October and has since clocked up three more senior appearances for the Reds.

But such has been Williams' contribution that it is reported England are interested in his services as he qualifies for them through his grandparents.

A player is only committed to a country after playing for them in a senior competitive fixture.

"Neco has come through the [Welsh] system. That does not always happen but ideally you want that to happen," Giggs told BBC Sport Wales.

"I think you are always worried when different countries come in and different permutations come in.

"But the likes of [Wales Under-21 coach] Paul Bodin, [Wales Under-19 coach] Rob Edwards and [Wales coach] Robert Page have enjoyed working with him and he has enjoyed playing for Wales."

Wales will continue their Euro 2020 build-up when they face Austria in Swansea on 27 March and the USA in Cardiff on 30 March, and Williams looks certain to earn his first senior call.

Giggs said: "We are looking at Neco because he is playing for a brilliant team at the moment and he has done really well when he has stepped up.

"When a player makes a few appearances in such a big club like Liverpool, he is suddenly catapulted into the public eye. He is a fantastic player, still young and still learning, but the energy and quality he has shown when he has stepped up into the first team has been really good, so it's exciting."

Giggs says the March friendlies represent the last chance for players to impress before he selects his final squad ahead of the Euro 2020 opener against Switzerland in Baku on 13 June.

"I have used a lot of players (in qualification). I wanted to fast track young players and give them experience and expose them to situations they would not have been in before," he added.

"The majority of them have responded brilliantly. Now we have a huge pool of players. If everyone is fit, it's a big problem. I want them all to be fit."

Though Euro 2020 is more than 100 days away, Giggs says he has a 23-man squad in his mind.

But he added: "You cannot just have 23, you have to have a contingency plan. That is something I have learned.

"You have an idea of a team and come the game it's nothing like that because of injuries. We have a big pool of players to choose from, I know what they all can do but even if we have injuries we should be able to cope."

Top Stories