England lack midfield strength to be a World Cup force - Ryan Giggs
SHANGHAI, China -- Wales manager Ryan Giggs has questioned whether England have the quality in midfield to make a major impact at the World Cup in Russia.
Gareth Southgate's side will be favourites to advance to the round of 16 along with Belgium from Group H but, while Giggs believes England can benefit from the youthful talents of Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford, he is yet to be convinced by the team's midfield options.
"I think they've got some really talented young players, players who have stood out this season like Sterling, Kane. Jesse Lingard's had a good season, you've got Rashford too," said the former Manchester United winger.
"And you've not got too many players who are scarred from previous tournaments, so they go into it fresh, full of youth. I think they've got a good manager, Gareth Southgate, who is really forward thinking, articulate and has thought outside the box, but with England there's always pressure to do well and they've not done well for a lot of championships now.
"But if it clicks then they could do some damage to some teams. Probably they haven't got that quality in midfield, I would say. When you look at the top teams, they've all got real top quality in midfield and that's what they're probably missing at the moment."
England kick off their World Cup campaign when they take on Tunisia in Volgograd on June 19 before facing Panama five days later in Nizhny Novgorod and rounding out the group phase against Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 29.
Giggs was speaking while in Shanghai at the weekend to participate in the Tencent Super Penguin celebrity match which saw the former Manchester United star join Carles Puyol, Andrea Pirlo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and Hernan Crespo take on a China team featuring several of the squad that represented the country at the World Cup finals in 2002.
Giggs said that the failure of Wales to qualify for the finals in Russia has only hardened his own resolve to take his country to the tournament the next time it is held, in Qatar in four years' time.
"It is disappointing from a British aspect there's only England representing the UK, and especially after Wales and Northern Ireland have been part of the Euros and performed really well in the Euros as well," he said.
"But it's tough to get into the World Cup, there's only 32 places. It's really tough. There's a lot of good teams that don't make it. It just makes you more determined to make sure you're there next time."