Croatia vs Wales preview: Daniel James available but no Aaron Ramsey
Watch Croatia vs Wales live on Sky Sports Football from 1.30pm on Saturday; kick-off is 2pm
Last Updated: 08/06/19 1:57pm
Daniel James is ready to play for Wales in Saturday's European Qualifier in Croatia despite his impending move to Manchester United.
James was at United's Carrington training ground on Thursday morning ahead of his transfer from Swansea, just hours before Wales flew to Osijek for a meeting with the World Cup finalists.
But Wales boss Ryan Giggs insists the winger's expected transfer - for a fee of up to £18m - has not disrupted preparations, saying: "He's a level-headed lad, he's been fine in training and he's OK for the Croatia game."
"You have to be flexible because you don't want things weighing on players' minds. He's fine and he's trained well. Obviously after the terrible news (the recent death of James' father Kevan) we had to be flexible.
"A lot has gone on over the last 10 days, but Dan has been fine around the group. "We'll have to see whether he starts for us but, if it (transfer) does happen then United are getting an exciting player that I know that Man United fans will get behind and enjoy watching."
Wales start the game as major underdogs given Croatia's exemplary home record.
Croatia have never lost a European Championship qualifier at home since their first match in the competition in 1994 and have also gone 23 home games unbeaten in all competitions.
Wales also have to contend with the fierce heat in Osijek, with the temperature expected to be around 30 degrees at kick-off.
"It's hard to prepare," Giggs said. "The weather wasn't quite like this in Wrexham! We've got to make the right preparations and give the players the right information on hydrating.
"It's an old school stadium and it's always tough to come away to places like this. You know it's going to be a challenge, but it's our job to silence that and turn that into pressure on the home team."
Tottenham left-back Ben Davies will be available for both games after he postponed end-of season groin surgery.
But Aaron Ramsey is not available following a hamstring injury.
Ballon D'Or holder Luka Modric is expected to lead the hosts but Croatia are missing several first-team players through injury, including Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic and Frankfurt striker Ante Rebic.
Mateo Kovacic, who spent last season on loan at Chelsea from Real Madrid, could start.
- This will be the fifth meeting between Croatia and Wales on the international stage, with Croatia winning the last three matches following a 1-1 draw in their first game in 2002.
- Wales haven't lost four consecutive games against a single opponent since June 2016 versus England, losing their last five against the Three Lions.
- Wales have lost three of their last four away games in all competitions (W1), as many defeats as they'd registered in their previous 12 such matches combined (W5 D4 L3).
- Wales have lost just once in their last 13 European Championship qualifiers (W9 D3 L1), losing to Bosnia and Herzegovina in October 2015 under Chris Coleman (0-2).
- Ryan Giggs could become the first Wales manager to win his first two European Championship qualifying matches in charge since Terry Yorath in 1990.
- Wales' Gareth Bale has had a hand in 12 goals in his last 14 appearances for the national team (9 goals, 3 assists), including registering seven goal involvements in his last seven games.
- Andrej Kramaric was directly involved in 21 league goals for Hoffenheim in 2018-19 (17 goals, 4 assists), more than any other Croatian player in Europe's big five leagues.
- Ashley Williams (85) could earn his 86th cap in this match, becoming the outright second leading appearance maker amongst outfield players for the Wales national team (men's) behind only Chris Gunter.