Daniel James can cope with the burden of becoming a Manchester United star, according to, arguably, the club’s biggest ever.
Wales manager Ryan Giggs played more games than anyone else at United – 963 – and won more trophies with 34 over the course of 22 seasons.
James is just starting out on his Old Trafford journey as he nears completion of an £18m move from Swansea City and at 21 is already four years older than his national manager was when he first played for the club.
But there is a similarity in that James, like Giggs before him, is now expected to produce the pace and trickery that marks him out from the crowd in both the red of Wales as well as that of United.
It’s a task that Giggs feels James is up to as he prepares to pick him to face Croatia tomorrow in a Euro 2020 qualifier, despite a testing few weeks for the youngster. Last month, James had to cope with the sudden death of his father, Kavan.
“Dan is fine,” said Giggs. “He’s trained well and he’s a level headed lad.
“Obviously, after the terrible news with his dad we had to be flexible in everything that was on the table. He went home on Thursday, but he’s in a good place. He’s assured me he’s ready to play.
“You don’t want things weighing on players’ minds so if you can get it sorted, it’s better for us and the player as well. United are getting an exciting and fantastic player.
“I know the United fans will get behind him and enjoy watching him. It’s fantastic for everyone, I think – for Dan, for Manchester United, and it’s a good deal for Swansea as well.
“It’s the biggest club in the world so my message to him is to enjoy the challenge, don’t be anyone else, and you’ll be fine.”
James underwent a medical with United on Thursday and is poised to become Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first summer signing.
He will earn in the region of £67,000-a-week with United. His current deal at Championship side Swansea is worth £4,000-a-week.
He broke off from preparations for Wales’ European qualifier in Osijek to head to United’s Carrington base while the rest of the squad trained in Chester.
Now, he is set to start for Wales against last year’s World Cup finalists in their second qualifier after he scored the only goal as Giggs’ men beat Slovakia 1-0 in their first in March.
Meetings with Croatia and Hungary in the space of four days will really test Wales as they look to keep their 100 per cent record alive.
Temperatures for tomorrow’s game with Croatia will touch 30 degrees and Osijek’s Gradski Stadium is a dilapidated, but intimidating venue with a capacity of just under 19,000.
Giggs added: “I was talking to Chris Mepham about my experiences as a player. The first time I went to Galatasaray away we were welcomed at the airport with a sign which said ‘Welcome to hell’.
“There were 5,000 people there. Of course the home team are going to try and make it as difficult as possible for you. That’s what we try and do.
“Croatia have got to the World Cup final and shown they’re a great team, but we’ve got a team that got to the Euro semi-finals and we have really good competition for places.
“We’re missing a top player in Aaron Ramsey and you have to be wary of the opposition’s strengths.
“Croatia have good players like Luka Modric, but you can’t just focus on one individual. It’s our job to stop them.”
In boiling hot temperatures Croatia and Real Madrid’s Modric are likely to dominate the ball, but Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic is absent injured.
Joe Allen – on his 50th cap – will be charged with keeping tabs on Modric. Tottenham’s Ben Davies is poised to start for Wales after surgery to fix a long-standing hernia problem was delayed.
Giggs is likely to deploy Gareth Bale as a lone striker. The Real Madrid superstar’s future remains uncertain.
He spent the first part of Wales’ pre-match training session working alone, but is fit to start.
“Gareth has been brilliant. He’s been excellent in training and he’s ready like he always is to play for his country,” Giggs said.
“There has been a lot of speculation around him, but when he comes away with us he forgets all that because he’s with his mates. I’ve been really pleased with him.”