Sheffield United: Why Kieron Freeman’s debut for Wales proved a bitter-sweet experience

Wales' Kieron Freeman (left) and Albania's Myrto Uzuni (right) battle for the ball during the international friendly match at the Elbasan Arena. : Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use.
Wales' Kieron Freeman (left) and Albania's Myrto Uzuni (right) battle for the ball during the international friendly match at the Elbasan Arena. : Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use.

Kieron Freeman has been told to help Wales "prove the critics wrong" after manager Ryan Giggs criticised their performance against Albania.

The Sheffield United defender made his senior international debut during Tuesday's defeat in Elbasan, appearing as a second-half substitute alongside Bramall Lane team mate Ben Woodburn.

Although Freeman could be absolved of any responsibility for the loss - Wales were already trailing when he was introduced - he was left in no doubt Giggs expects more from a squad which reached the semi-finals of the European Championships two years ago.

"Up until tonight I've been more than happy with the players, but sometimes you need these sorts of results to put things in context," Giggs said after the match. "Players are still learning about me, I'm still learning about the players. 

"Generally this group of players have come back after a defeat and proved the critics wrong. It was a lesson that there are no easy games in international football, you can't take anything for granted and we'll learn from it in future."

Freeman, Scotland's John Fleck and England under-21 goalkeeper Dean Henderson are the last players to arrive back at Bramall Lane following the international break.

Wales Manager Ryan Giggs gestures on the touchline during the international friendly match at the Elbasan Arena: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use.

Wales Manager Ryan Giggs gestures on the touchline during the international friendly match at the Elbasan Arena: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use.

Henderson helped the Young Lions stretch their unbeaten run to 22 games with a 5-1 win over Denmark.  Former United striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, now of Everton, was on target twice in Esbjerg. Fleck was an unused substitute during Scotland's UEFA Nations League meeting with Israel.