Ryan Giggs faces first major international test against Republic of Ireland
Uefa Nations League Group B4: Wales v Republic of Ireland (tonight, Cardiff City, 7.45pm)
AHEAD of entering international football’s competitive arena against Uefa Nations League opponents Republic of Ireland this evening, Wales manager Ryan Giggs wants his team to be “hard to beat and play attractive football”.
The former Manchester United star took over from Chris Coleman when the latter stepped down soon after the Republic knocked Wales out of contention for a place at last summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.
Giggs has had two warm-up games against China and United States since his appointment in January but tonight’s tie in Cardiff City Stadium is his first major test.
"It's a proud moment for me and I'm very excited," said Giggs.
"But we know it's going to be a tough game. The Republic have not been beaten in their last six competitive away games and we know what we're up against.
"We know it's a team that is going to work hard and make it difficult for us.
"There's more pressure being my first competitive game but I want my teams to be hard to beat and play attractive football."
Giggs has reported a full-strength squad with Gareth Bale fit and firing after scoring in Real Madrid's opening three LaLiga games.
Bale, critically, missed last October’s World Cup Qualifier defeat to the Irish that was settled by James McClean’s memorable second half strike.
Giggs has named seven players aged 21 or under in his squad, and while Hal Robson-Kanu has since retired, the home side will be packed with plenty of guile and experience, with Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey among them.
Newcastle United full-back Paul Dummett has returned to the squad after a three-year absence and 19-year-old Tyler Roberts has been drafted in.
Man City teenager Matthew Smith and Chelsea’s highly-rated young central defender Ethan Ampadu are also part of the Welsh squad.
Wales haven’t beaten the Republic since a friendly clash back in 1992 when Mark Hughes and Dean Saunders were leading the attack.
Meanwhile, Wales could be facing a significantly easier second Nations Cup game against Denmark on Sunday due to an on-going dispute between the players and the Danish FA over commercial rights.
The Danes are set to field an uncapped scratch side consisting of third-tier and futsal players, the latter being an indoor five-a-side game played with a harder and smaller ball.
"What sort of [Danish] team we're going to face I don't know," Giggs said.
"There's a bit of me that thinks they'll sort it out, but every day that looks more and more unlikely.
"But I've got a big game against Ireland first and all my concentration is on that."