Football: Time to deliver for wonder boy

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THERE was no more talented player at the World Cup than Ryan Giggs, of those, that is, whose involvement was in a watching capacity rather than with a say in the destination of the golden prize. Now USA '94 has given way to a new European Championship campaign, Giggs has to prove he can learn quickly.

He can only do his talking on the pitch. Quite bizarrely, considering he is a mature young man who in two months' time will presumbably be old enough to hang up his own 21st birthday cards, he remains out of bounds to the press and there is plenty he wants to say, starting tomorrow for Wales in their Group Seven qualifier against Albania.

The Manchester United wonder boy knows himself that if he is to be ranked among the great he has to become more involved, more precise with his deliveries, and more consistent. And then . . 'I have to take more of my chances like Romario did in the World Cup,' Giggs has said. 'Also Branco's winning free-kick for Brazil against Holland brought home to me that I don't do that often enough.'

A harsh verdict? Maybe. Certainly they are towering standards to reach but that he endeavours to do so is a good sign for his and Wales' future.

Giggs' first international appearance for 10 months comes with his club place supposedly in doubt. Ian Rush, who skippers his country in the Cardiff Arms Park fixture because Barry Horne is injured, said that is because 'he came on too fast too soon'. He added:'The honeymoon period is over for Ryan and he has to produce it now but I know he can.'

With Dean Saunders suspended and Mark Hughes another injury absentee, Sheffield United's Nathan Blake is set to share responsibility with Rush for the goals which will send Wales off with a victory. Derby's Mark Pembridge has been called up to replace the injured Clayton Blackmore.

The 19-year-old Manchester United winger, Keith Gillespie, rated one of Northern Ireland's finest prospects, is expected to be given his debut in the side to face Portugal in the Group Six qualifier at Windsor Park tomorrow.