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Manchester United’s Daniel James has been condemned by concussion charity Headway after the winger was adjudged by many to have ‘acted’ injury during Wales’ European Championship qualifier against Croatia on Sunday evening.
Ryan Giggs, who is the manager of the national side, said the James was ‘streetwise’ to have stayed down for so long in the draw after a clash of heads with Domagoj Vida.
The 21-year-old received extensive treatment on the pitch, and the delay lasted for 15 minutes. The appropriate concussion protocols were assessed at half time, and James was available to continue playing for the duration of the match.
Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Ryan Mason, who suffered a head injury to cut short his career, wasn’t happy with how the injury was perceived on the pitch and took to social media to share his opinion. He Tweeted: “Daniel James was just knocked out unconscious! Yet 3 minutes later he has been allowed back onto the pitch.”
After the match had finished, Giggs spoke to reporters about the incident. He said: “The physio came over, but there was no problem. We did all the (concussion) tests at half-time, and he was fine.
“He stayed down and was a bit streetwise. He told the doctors ‘I’m not moving, I’m just sitting still’. Not to get anyone sent off, he was just using his nous.”
During his interview, James added: “I think he just caught me in the head. I didn’t get knocked out, fortunately.”
Headway chief executive, Peter McCabe was quick to voice his displeasure at the actions of officials, James and Giggs. He released a statement, which said: “Although it is argued that concussion protocols were followed, the rules state that if a concussion is suspected a player must be removed from the game.
“To all watching, it appeared that Daniel James lost consciousness. Regardless of his manager’s comments after the game, this in itself must surely have given enough reason to take a cautious approach.
“However, Ryan Giggs’ claim that the player was being ‘streetwise’ by staying down and appearing to have been knocked out is shocking.
“If that is the case and James was ‘acting’, it raises serious questions about the player’s understanding of the seriousness of concussion.
“Not only has he put his own medical team under intense and unfair scrutiny, but he’s also set a dangerous example for the millions watching at home.
“Similarly, we have serious concerns about terms like ‘streetwise’ or that the player was ‘just using his nous’. It is simply not acceptable for teams to use concussion protocols for tactical gain.”
Reporters were also quick to talk about the incident, which unfortunately plagued a game that was full of quality.
Geraint Hughes of Sky Sports said: “He probably wasn’t unconscious and there are a few reasons why we know that. He was allowed to continue, and the speed that, not just the Wales medical team, but also the paramedics just next to the dugout came onto the pitch and began to treat James was lightning quick, it was just seconds.
“They didn’t wait for the referee. They were on because the initial challenge was terrible. Commentator Bill Leslie said he was ‘pole-axed’ and he was the filling in a Croatian sandwich.
“In terms of what exactly happened thereafter, was James seriously hurt or was it a bit of ‘streetwise’ thinking? You’ve initially got to look from the medical point of view. The initial challenge didn’t look good, and on the pitch, they are in charge.”
It wasn’t the first time that James has been in trouble for feigning injury this season, as he has already received two yellow cards for simulation.
The winger will likely be fit enough to take part in United’s next league fixture against Liverpool on Sunday, in which they go in as overwhelming outsiders to get the victory at Old Trafford.