Giggs defends Lawrence pick for Wales despite drink-drive charge

Wales boss Ryan Giggs on Thursday defended his decision to select Tom Lawrence for Euro 2020 qualifiers against Slovakia and Croatia, with the Derby forward due in court on a drink-driving charge.

Lawrence, 25, charged last month after a car crash, is due to appear in court on October 15, two days after the Croatia game in Cardiff.

"It wasn't an easy decision," Giggs said after naming his squad. "It was a case of speaking to everyone involved -- my staff, the FAW (Football Association of Wales) and Derby.

"I spoke to Phillip Cocu (Derby manager) two days ago to see what Derby's stance was. It was a conversation that definitely needed to be had, to make sure we were all singing from the same hymn sheet."

Lawrence, who has 20 Wales caps, missed Derby's 3-2 Championship win over Birmingham on Saturday following the incident, which also saw teammate Mason Bennett charged with drink-driving.

But Lawrence started the Rams' 2-2 draw at Barnsley on Wednesday, when sections of both sets of supporters booed as his name was read out before kick-off.

Derby have said there will be a "rigorous internal investigation" into the incident, and Cocu has suggested there will be a range of disciplinary actions taken against those involved.

"Tom is disappointed with what his actions were and he's going to be punished (by Derby)," Giggs said.

"I spoke to him on Sunday and he was a bit down, as you can imagine. He has that court date on the 15th, but in the meantime he will be able to get on with his career."

"It's not going to be easy because he'll be thinking about that. But I'll see how he is during the week.

"I'll see how he trains and then make a decision or not on whether to start him in any of the games."

Skipper Ashley Williams is recalled to the squad for the away match against Slovakia on October 10 and the home game against Croatia on October 13.

Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey, Schalke winger Rabbi Matondo and Tyler Roberts also return after injury problems.

Wales, fourth in Group E, trail leaders Croatia by four points, with a game in hand.

Wales squad:

Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Danny Ward (Leicester), Adam Davies (Stoke)

Defenders: Chris Gunter (Reading), Ashley Williams (Bristol City), Ben Davies (Tottenham), Neil Taylor (Aston Villa), Connor Roberts (Swansea), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Tom Lockyer (Charlton), Joe Rodon (Swansea)

Midfielders: Ethan Ampadu (RB Leipzig), Aaron Ramsey (Juventus), Joe Allen (Stoke), Joe Morrell (Lincoln), Will Vaulks (Cardiff), Matt Smith (QPR), Harry Wilson (Bournemouth), Jonny Williams (Charlton)

Forwards: Sam Vokes (Stoke), Tyler Roberts (Leeds), Tom Lawrence (Derby), Rabbi Matondo (Schalke), Kieffer Moore (Wigan), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Daniel James (Manchester United)

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