Giggs defends decision to rest Bale ahead of Wales’ first Euro 2020 qualifier after fan backlash
RYAN GIGGS defended his decision to wrap Gareth Bale in cotton wool ahead of Wales’ Euro 2020 opener against Slovakia on Sunday.
The Real Madrid superstar was left out of Giggs’ 18-man squad for this narrow friendly win with Trinidad and Tobago.
Giggs’ decision raised eyebrows among a section of the Welsh support at a sold-out Racecourse Ground in Wrexham.
This was Wales’ first game in the north of the country for 11 years.
But the Wales boss, buoyed by Ben Woodburn’s injury-time winner, shared his disappointment at being forced to leave Bale in the stands.
Giggs explained his selection and said: “I can understand the disappointment. They want to see the likes of Gareth but it’s my job to make sure we are ready for Sunday.
“Originally when I planned the game it was going to be a first half then we make changes.
“Brooksy took a knock on his ankle at the weekend, Harry [Wilson] and Connor [Roberts] have played a lot of games. Aaron picked up a little knock.
“So it was just a big, big risk. It gave me the opportunity to look after them early in the week and a lot of them trained really well on Wednesday.
“I’m pleased to get the result in the end but disappointed for the fans not to see Gareth.”
And on this evidence Giggs will need his talisman firing if Wales are repeat their Euro 2016 heroics.
Giggs added: “Gareth had his first 90 minutes in three months.
“He took part in a little bit of training yesterday. He trained this morning really well.
“So it was just too much of a risk with Sunday in mind. That was the case with a few of the players.”
Giggs also pointed to the fact Wales have an advantage this week with only one game while their Group E rivals including Slovakia, who face Hungary today.
He said: “Slovakia play Thursday and then Sunday afternoon so it’s a two and a half day turnaround.
“I wanted to make sure we made that advantage count this week both in the build-up physically and preparing mentally for the game.
“I gave the chance for a few players to push forward for selection on Sunday but also keeping a lot of players fresh because we have this advantage in this first game.”
Giggs was happy to pick up his fourth win in ten games as Wales boss after Woodburn chested home from Will Vaulks’ cross.
Woodburn burst on the scene in the previous World Cup qualifying campaign with a thumping winner over Austria.
But the 19-year-old has endured a frustrating time at club level after he was recalled by Liverpool following a miserable loan spell at Sheffield United.
In fact, this was Woodburn’s first appearance since Wales’ humiliating defeat in Albania – four months ago – but he came up trumps when he scored his second goal for his country deep in added time at the back post.