Wales v Denmark: Pre-match press conference with Giggs and Williams

Ryan Giggs and Ashley Williams speak ahead of the vital Wales v Denmark clash on Friday night at the Cardiff City Stadium.

RYAN GIGGS

Facing Denmark:

“You prepare every game and you try to do it the right way.

“There’s a bit more edge, more pace, added concentration for this match. You want all the players to affect the game, whether that’s starting or coming from the bench.

“You recognise that Denmark have a good manager and a good set of players. But we want to concentrate on our strengths and not worry too much about the opposition.”

“I was more unhappy about the result last time because we were definitely in the game up until the penalty.

“Looking back, we caused them problems. Overall, I wasn’t too down about the performance, but we will need to play better tomorrow.”

“We’ve got across to the players what we want to get from the game.

“We gave them as much information as we could at the start of the week. These last couple of days it’s more relaxed and now we just want the players to go out there and express themselves.”

Christian Eriksen:

“He’s a fantastic player who was the difference over in Aarhus.

We are aware of his qualities, we have a plan to stop him but doing it will be key. He is the best player for Denmark without a shadow of a doubt.

“We have our qualities as well, but Eriksen is up there with the top Premier League performers.”

The possibility of winning the group:

“I think for everyone, the coaching staff, the players, fans – to be promoted to League A, you know next time we will be amongst the big boys in the draw. We want to test ourselves with the best.”

“There are lots of incentives for us to top the group. To finish first would be great because there’s a second bite of the cherry to qualify for EURO 2020 and our seeding overall gets pushed higher as well.

“It’s in our hands, but it’s not going to be easy because we’re up against a top class side.

“They are going to be tough to beat and they are undoubtedly a very good team.”

Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and any injuries:

“Gareth is good, he arrived a little bit later than the rest of the group, but he’s looking fine and ready this week.

“We had to give him a different program at the beginning of the week, but he is fine for tomorrow.”

“There aren’t any injury doubts, but it’s not ideal having withdrawals [Chris Mepham].

“George Thomas is not in the squad due to injury, and he will be 50/50 for Albania. Everyone else is fine.”

“Aaron is a quality player, he’s played enough this season, albeit in deeper roles.

“He has had enough games, just like Gareth Bale, he is fine.”

Being back at the Cardiff City Stadium:

“The players probably know more than me about the experiences here.

“We had a good result and performance last time against the Republic of Ireland, but it wasn’t full.

“With what’s at stake – we will need the crowd’s help to win the game.”

ASHLEY WILLIAMS

A “cup final” against Denmark:

“It feels a little bit like a final because we both want to win the group and we know what’s at stake if we do we win.

“We have a really good balance throughout the squad and the young players stand up like men.

“With the young players, they have valuable experience for the next set of games. We are in a good position now with one game left.”

“I think Eriksen is the obvious star of the Danish team, but they have a very good set of players throughout.

“It’ll be something that we will think about throughout the game for sure.”

“We need to play better than we did in the last game against them. Being at home gives us an extra bonus; we have a clear game plan with how to win this time.

“We’ve worked hard to get here and we want to finish it off properly and win the group.”

Playing at the Cardiff City Stadium:

“We are looking forward to it – a Friday night in Cardiff is always a special occasion under the lights. Hopefully, we can repay the fans with a win.

We have had a great relationship with the fans for years now and they have taken to the change of team and manager. Everyone seems to be enjoying it and long may it continue.”

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey:

“Gareth is sharp and ready to go. He’s had a good week, he’s happy around the camp and he doesn’t have any complaints.

“There will be two world-class players on show [Bale and Eriksen], we understand how good he is and Denmark will as well.”

“For us, Ramsey is one of the most important players for the team. He gives us something a little bit different, he is a leader and essential for us.

“We obviously want all of our most experienced players on the field at all times.

“A lot of big teams will be interested in him, I haven’t spoken to him about it [being linked with Bayern Munich], but it’s not surprising with the qualities he possesses.”

Follow the blog on Twitter to receive the latest updates on Welsh football.

Read more:
• Wales Watch: Gwion Edwards, Hal Robson-Kanu and Joel Lynch among the goals
• Ryan Giggs speaks at the squad announcement ahead of Denmark and Albania
• Wales Watch: James Chester’s heroics were the highlight of the weekend 

Harry Wilson eager to fulfil childhood dream

Harry Wilson spoke to the press this week ahead of the matches against Spain and Rep. of Ireland. He talks about his progress with club and country, playing at the Principality Stadium for the first time, the competition in the squad and his free-kick practice.

Loan spells with Derby and Hull and a return to the Wales setup:

“It has been a really good start to the season overall. This year with Derby has been great and being a regular pick for the Wales squads too, I’m delighted.

“It was frustrating for me that I picked up an injury last month and missed four or five games, but now I’ve come back and I’m playing well and feeling fit and strong.”

“Lampard has been great. I spoke to him on the phone before I went there and the way he spoke and what he told me about how he wanted his team to play made me realise it was the right club for me.

“Since I’ve been there I’ve learned a lot and his coaches help me too. The way we’ve played in the last month or so has shown how we’ve progressed as a team.”

Wilson stresses that going out on loan was vital for his progress and experience as a footballer. He mentions the wonderful loan spell he had at Hull for five months in 2018.

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“Earlier in the year, I was desperate to get out on loan and get some senior appearances in. When Hull came calling I thought it would be a great move for me.

“I managed to score some goals and get some assists [for Hull], got my call-up to the Wales squad and my full debut, as well as my first international goal.”

“Being a regular selection for Wales squads now is great and I want to stay here.”

Making Wales debut and the hot competition

Wilson is smiling as he’s chatting and is clearly enjoying his lifestyle at the moment. He recognises that patience is key when you’re a young footballer and understands the frustrations Ben Woodburn is currently having at Sheffield United, as he experienced a similar spell at Crewe.

“I made my Wales debut at a very young age. Chris Coleman showed his faith in me by putting me in at 16.

“I didn’t get an appearance for Wales for a few years after that, but I think when you’re that young you’ve got to be patient and learn your trade on the football ladder.”

harry-wilson_2704477b

“We all know the quality that Ben [Woodburn] has. He’s not playing regularly at the minute, which I suppose he wants like every player does.

“He will come out of the other side as a stronger player. When he gets his chance I’m sure he’ll perform.”

Competition in every position is key to a successful team and Wilson’s strongest position as a wide attacker is filled with mouthwatering options – Bale, Brooks, Woodburn, Lawrence, not to mention being coached by one of the world’s best left-midfielders ever.

“I think it’s a good competition to have, as we all know the qualities each other have. We’re all a similar age as well, so we’re learning these experiences together.”

“To have the manager that we’ve got, who played in the same position means that we’re learning every day.

“He doesn’t join in too much on the training ground, but when he does you can see his touch, his passing and his vision is still there definitely.”

Free kick specialist

As well as becoming a competent winger, he also demonstrated a superb free kick technique against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup a couple of weeks ago – executing it to perfection, to the level of Bale or Ronaldo’s quality.

“If Gareth isn’t on the pitch for one reason or another I’ll be putting my name forward, and then depending on where the free kick is on the pitch – hopefully I’ll be able to take it.”

“I just think that if the free kick is as far out as what it was [against Manchester United], it’s a bit too far to curl it, so I think it’s important to have a couple of techniques in your locker just in case the free kick is a bit further out.”

“I try and spend a bit of time after training with a couple of the lads trying to get that free kick technique, so to see it come off on the big stage was nice.”

“I think a lot of players try and replicate that technique, but only a couple have perfected it – Gareth [Bale] being one and [Cristiano] Ronaldo the other.”

Playing at the Principality Stadium

“It’s a stadium I’ve always wanted to play at. I was there a couple of times when I was younger as a fan.

“The last game I went to was the England game in 2011. I remember sitting there seeing a full house and one day wishing that would be me. Hopefully, that day will be on Thursday.”

International Football - UEFA Euro 2012 - Qualifying Group G - Wales v England

“The Cardiff City Stadium has done us well. Some of the performances we’ve put in there and the atmosphere that’s been generated there has been great.

“I think the change can be good; more fans can go and get the chance to watch us and we’re hoping to put on a good performance for them.”

On the prospect of playing against Spain on Thursday, Wilson says he was a massive admirer of the Barcelona team ten years ago. This was a Barcelona side that included the Spanish talents of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol, to name a few.

“I watched Barcelona a lot when I was growing up, from 2008 onwards I’d say. Watching them on European nights and most league games, they were phenomenal.”

Wilson’s flatmate and Derby teammate, Mason Mount, was called up to the England squad last week and they will face Spain next week, after Wales’ match.

“I’ll message Mason [Mount] after the game and ask him how he’s getting on and I’m sure he’ll do the same with me. If he asks for any secrets about Spain, I’ll tell him no problem.”

Follow the blog on Twitter to receive the latest news regarding Welsh football.

Read more:
• Everything you need to know about Joe Rodon – the latest Wales call-up
• Ramsey and Brooks hit form at the perfect time 
• Mitchell Clark “surprised” at not being named in the Wales U21 squad 
• Ryan Giggs announces his squad for the fixtures against Spain and Rep. of Ireland 
• Wales Watch: Tyler Roberts shines again for Leeds in midweek 

Ryan Giggs announces his squad for the fixtures against Spain and Rep. of Ireland

Wales manager, Ryan Giggs named his 25-man squad ahead of the friendly v Spain and Nations League match v Republic of Ireland. This announcement didn’t draw too many surprises, other than Joe Rodon’s omission after his excellent form for Swansea.

The difficulty of picking players:

“It was straightforward this time because I was happy with the last camp. Tom Lockyer and Joe Ledley are injured at the moment, so they are the two players who are left out.”

“I feel as though Joe Rodon is best to go with Rob Page because I think Jazz Richards was a better fit to this squad. I have spoken to him in last few camps and he was unlucky to miss out on the last set of matches. Picking Jazz over Joe was the only real difficulty I had because Jazz isn’t getting regular games at Cardiff.”

Friendly with Spain at the Principality Stadium:

“Every player’s motivation will be high. Playing for your country, playing against a good team and a chance to test yourself at the Principality Stadium. It will be something different for the players, but they will be ready for the challenge.

“It will be getting the balance right for the competitive and more important game against Ireland, but also the players will be desperate to be involved against a top side in Spain.

“It’s my decision to analyse our players and make a decision on who is to play for both games. It’s possible that the team picked for the Ireland game could be a lot different to the Spain team.”

“We felt this game gave us a good opportunity to play in a bigger stadium. A lot of the players haven’t played there so it will be a fantastic occasion in a stadium where I have many happy memories – my favourite being the win against Italy and coming off the pitch in an unbelievable atmosphere.”

“I recognise that we have a great record at the Cardiff City Stadium. We’re not dismissing the Liberty or the Racecourse for future games either. For every game we need to have different options looking forward.”

Aaron Ramsey’s current situation:

“Ramsey won’t be affected when he comes with us. From what I saw from him last time when he met up, he was a fantastic player and a top professional.

“I don’t expect it [the contractual negotations] to impact his performances with Wales. All I’m concentrating on is a player who comes and gives his all with fantastic qualities.”

“He’s a good player so he’d be suitable to play in any league. But at the moment he’s an Arsenal player and he will be fully concentrating on that, it’s pure speculation at the moment.”

“I haven’t spoken to him yet about his wife having a baby. I don’t like to speak to players when they have games on the weekend, but in the next couple of days or so I will be in touch with Aaron about his personal situation.”

Gareth Bale’s minor injury and game time next week:

“Gareth had a groin strain on the weekend, but the scan was clear. He expects to play on Saturday evening for Real Madrid.

“You want a good relationship with all the clubs, especially with Gareth at Madrid. Every game is huge for a club of that size – how many minutes he plays, how often he trains etc. Ideally, I want him to play every minute, but that’s not possible.”

“Gareth Bale will be presented with an honour before the game against Spain next week for becoming Wales’ highest goalscorer. Make sure you get there early!”

The game against Rep. of Ireland in Dublin:

“It’s not easy for the quick turnaround, we should be fresh after our Spain match.

“I don’t think our game against Denmark was down to fatigue – we just didn’t have the length of time to prepare like we did for Ireland.”

“I respect Martin as a manager and I expect a backlash performance. When you get beat as a player, you want to rectify that so I expect a difficult game. If we play to the level that we did in the first game we’ll be fine.”

“The reception from the fans in Cardiff against Ireland was what dreams were made of. But our last game was against Denmark and we got beat and we need to improve on a lot of things. We have to get back to what we’re good at.”

When asked about Roy’s snub at the end of the game in Cardiff: “Roy, like me, is a winner so I expect him to have some reaction and there are no hard feelings.

“I was with him last week in Cork for Liam Miller’s memorial match. We were as normal as ever.”

Ethan Ampadu’s future:

“He is getting matches at U23 level, but it’s difficult as we’ve seen with Wilson and Woodburn [at Liverpool] to see where these players will get their games.

“I was more than pleased with how he turned up in the last camps. He’s only just turned 18 so he has plenty of time at a top club in Chelsea.

“Ethan can be anything he wants to be; what a player and character to have. A manager’s dream, but again, he’s only 18.”

Andy King picked despite not playing a game for Leicester:

“He’s frustrated with not playing at Leicester. It’s about seeing how the players turn up, of course, you want players playing regularly.

“He’s a good pro and looks after himself. Whether he plays 30 mins, an hour or not at all, we’ll assess that as good as we can do.”

Attacking quality in numbers:

He jokes: “I’m impressed with Tyler [Roberts] scoring but not with Harry [Wilson] scoring [against Manchester United last week].

“Sam Vokes scored for Burnley at the weekend. We want players coming into the camp scoring goals, it brings great competition to the camp.”

“I have no concerns regarding Ben Woodburn, he’s just not getting regular games at Sheffield United currently.

“Sometimes a loan works out sometimes it doesn’t, he can come through this and be a better player. It’s up to Ben now, he’s got the quality to perform.”

“David Brooks is another player I enjoy coaching, he can do things out of the ordinary. When you get your chance, you have to take it and he has at Bournemouth.”

A future Team GB:

“Without getting into the details, in my experience in 2012, it was fantastic. Whatever the FAW have with regards to the women is up to them.”


 

I also spoke with Wales U21 manager, Robert Page. You can view what he said on the blog’s Twitter feed – www.twitter.com/behindthegoal16

Read more:
• Mitchell Clark “surprised” at not being named in the Wales U21 squad
• Wales Watch: Tyler Roberts shines again for Leeds in midweek
• What needs to be done to end Cardiff’s winless campaign? 
• Three Welsh players net their first club goals this season 
• Wales Watch: Harry Wilson shows his quality in the League Cup 
• Wales Watch: Ramsey and Wilson hit form 

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