by Richard Early
RYAN Giggs addressed the assembled press and media at St Fagans National Museum of History – to announce his Wales squad for the training camp and international friendly against Mexico.
“I’ve got a training camp at the moment for a selection of players who went to China and a lot of the lads from the Under-21 squad,” began Giggs. “Robert Page is with us as well.”
“It is an incentive for a group of players to get on that LA trip and I’ve said that to them – a chance for them to shine and show us what they’ve got. Obviously, not all of them are going to go but it gives the young lads an opportunity to get on that trip and be part of the game against Mexico.
“I was always keen from when I started to have a pathway through communication with Robert Page, Paul Bodin and Rob Edwards – all the managers who look after the younger teams. I want to give the youth a chance because that’s what I was brought up with and that’s what I believe in.”
The Wales gaffer progressed to reflect on the China tour and what he learnt from the experience as a young manager, new to the international scene.
“On the China tour, I had one-and-a-half training sessions before the first game. I didn’t want that for my next camp – I wanted five or six quality training days before the match and I’ve got that.
“I wanted a good climate, recognising that it is the end of the season and the lads are looking to get on holiday.
“I wanted it to be in a decent place and environment with a good game at the end. We’ve got all of that and the match is going to be tough against a very good team who are going to the World Cup.
“I’ve been out to LA for pre-season plenty of times and the facilities are great – you work in the morning and are free to relax in the afternoon.
“It is a great chance for players that want to stake a claim and that’s what I was seeing in China – individuals given a chance and taking it. There were some fantastic performances and debuts and I was really pleased with that – it’s what I wanted.”
“I’m not really bothered about age. If you’re good enough then you’ll get a chance.”
— Wales 🏴 (@Cymru) 16 May 2018
The 44-year-old went on to reveal his desire for younger players to pressurise more established individuals, as he aims to make the squad more competitive. Giggs highlighted Sheffield United’s, David Brooks and Brentford’s, Chris Mepham as examples.
“I want the older, more experienced players to be looking down and seeing a younger player at their ankles, trying to take their place – that can only be good for the squad.
“There is always pressure on every player when they come away and that’s the pressure that you want as a footballer – to perform under the spotlight.
“David Brooks ended the season well again. He’s had glandular fever and that is a big illness – we need to look after him and make sure that he can perform to the best of his ability.
“Chris Mepham has just come from nowhere really and been fantastic this season. He was fantastic in China and has a fantastic future.
“These are the players that I want to make it competitive and push the more established players to be constantly looking over their shoulder.”
The Welshman praised Aaron Ramsey as an inspiration for potential prospects coming through. The 27-year-old could be capped for the 53rd time in Pasadena.
“Aaron Ramsey is a top player and had a fantastic season – he’s got the quality that you need. As a manager, you want as much quality on the pitch as you can get – not only in games but in training as well.
“For young players coming through to see the likes of Aaron performing every day and seeing what it takes to become a top player – it can only be beneficial for them.”
The Wales manager concluded by giving an injury update on Joe Allen and Ethan Ampadu, before explaining Jazz Richards’ call-up and the reasons for absentees.
“Joe Allen has picked up an injury. He’d some trouble with his toe and was playing through injections for the last month or so. Then, he got a kick in the last game so Joe is out, unfortunately.
“Ethan [Ampadu] was off his crutches a couple of weeks ago so he’s going to be fit for pre-season and that’s fantastic news.
“The good thing is that he is a young player and has plenty of time to recover – it was a big injury but he’ll come back. You’ve got to give him time – a fantastic prospect and I can’t wait to work with him because he is a talent.
“You want to see all the players fit and we’ve got a real mix at the moment.
“Jazz Richards has joined us and he had a terrible season regarding injuries – fit towards the end and probably been frustrated.
“You want players turning up fit because that is when they can perform at their best. We’ve had a lot of injuries as well and that is the frustration about international football – you’re dreading that phone call off the physio or medical department.
“Also, you want to look after the players when they do return and make sure that you get the best out of them.”