How did Manchester United-bound Daniel James play in first game since transfer announcement?
Wales lost 2-1 to Croatia in their European Qualifier on Saturday
Last Updated: 09/06/19 9:40am
Daniel James took to the field for Wales just a day after his long-rumoured move to Manchester United was announced, but how did he fare? We kept an eye on the talented 21-year-old...
It has been a whirlwind few days for James and, provided the deal goes through as planned on Tuesday, he will be wearing the famous red jersey next season. But Manchester United fans may have been slightly disappointed when tuning in to see their new winger.
The game did not suit James' style and the 21-year-old had a quiet afternoon as Croatia dominated possession - seeing 62.6 per cent of the ball - but you could not fault his work rate, as was true for much of the Wales team on Saturday.
James was anonymous for 43 minutes of the game in a roasting Stadion Gradski Vrt, but caught the eye towards the end of the first half as Wales got on top.
He put in a wonderful cross for Will Vaulks' eventual effort in the 43rd minute before supplying Gareth Bale soon afterwards, although the end product from the Real Madrid man was less successful as his own club future hangs in the balance.
In the second half, James drew a cynical foul and eventual booking for Domagoj Vida in the 69th minute, giving United fans a glimpse of his explosive pace, before showing superb positioning to get in between two Croatia defenders, although Joe Allen's pass was dealt with well by Dejan Lovren.
He was then taken off in the 78th minute by former United winger Ryan Giggs with a few bright moments to show his new worldwide fanbase.
Indeed, former Wales international Dave Edwards said on co-commentary: "He didn't have much chance to get the ball and run at players, but if you give him the football with space in front of him, he will cause damage. He commits players and he is a defender's worst nightmare with that raw pace.
"But he has got so much better. You look at where he was last season - we had him on loan at Shrewsbury but he didn't play. He was expected to go on loan at the start of the season, but he got thrown into the team and he has improved with every single game. He's getting better and better and I would be excited if I was a Man United fan."
It was always going to be difficult for Wales to over-run a Croatia side who have not lost a home game since October 2013 and for James to match his last appearance for his country, when he scored the winning goal on his first competitive start.
He may still be relatively inexperienced when it comes to senior men's football but he has just signed for Manchester United, where the pressure to perform is arguably higher than at any club in the country.
James may have been slightly daunted by the prospect of the World Cup runners-up at a sold-out away ground on Saturday, understandably worried about making a sloppy error and not using his ability to run at defenders to full effect.
There is another chance for United fans to get a measure of James on Tuesday as Wales travel to Hungary, live on Sky Sports, and with his substitution, there is every chance the winger is in Giggs' plans for a third successive start.
Tuesday is another chance for him to show that he can deal with the pressure on the international stage - Giggs would not use him if he thought he would struggle - and, even with his talent still developing, he can show the world why he deserves his move to Old Trafford.
View from the stands - Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes
"Wales have been protecting Daniel James, not so much due to his transfer to Man United, but the death of his father. Ryan Giggs has been in regular contact with James and his family to make sure he's in the right frame of mind and also whether being with Wales is the best place for him.
"After missing Wales' training camp in Portugal, the two spoke and it was felt being among the squad would be a good environment for a young man who had just lost his father.
"James' involvement in Croatia was probably, for a lot of Wales fans, frustratingly limited. For the first 40 minutes, he barely saw the ball or when he did, he was closed down quickly.
"But in the five minutes leading to half time, James was able to run onto balls played into space 15-20 yards ahead of him. Croatia couldn't cope with that and we saw just how dangerous he can be. His pace is electric.
"If Manchester United and Wales can utilise that pace, he will be a handful, although the cynical side of football emerges here. Vida's tackle in the second half hurt him.
"It will also happen more and more so the new Man United signing will have to get used to being chopped down as his speed clearly threatens defences."