The Winter World Cup will increase fears of injury ahead of time, claims Daniel James

Daniel James, left, says players will be more cautious than usual about injuries ahead of this year’s World Cup (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)

Wales striker Daniel James believes the timing of this year’s World Cup will increase players’ fears of missing the tournament through injury.

Qatar 2022 kicks off in the middle of the European football season, with Senegal taking on the Netherlands in their opening game at Al Thumama on November 21.

Both England and Wales start their Group B campaign against Iran and USA respectively later on the same day, 11 days after the final round of Premier League games on November 12.

Leeds winger James, who reported back to Leeds Beckett University for his club’s pre-season testing on Monday, said: “It’s difficult because we have a Premier League game, something like the week before (the World Cup ).

“So I think everyone’s focus is on being fit for this tournament. In the middle of the season things get a little weird.

“You go from playing in the Premier League to next week and you’re playing at a World Cup. There is no time for a game in between.

“It is strange. Normally you probably have two or three weeks before you leave, but in this last (Premier League) game before the World Cup, players will be careful.

“But you just have to focus on every upcoming game and keep yourself as fit as possible.”

James described his summer so far as “amazing” after Leeds secured survival in the top flight on the final day, two weeks before Wales qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time in 64 years with their play-off win over Ukraine qualified.

“Yeah, what a great summer,” he said. “To qualify for the World Cup, for the players, for the country that hasn’t qualified for 64 years.

“We’re one of the smallest nations to ever qualify for the World Cup, so it’s a huge achievement for all of us.

    (PA Archive)

(PA Archive)

“I wouldn’t say it’s an isolated case. A lot of people wrote us off. We were in that category when we qualified for the Euros.

“I wasn’t involved at the time, but we’ve stepped onto the world stage now and nobody can dissuade us.”

James, who joined Leeds from Manchester United for £25million last summer, no longer sees himself as a through and through winger after playing a central hitting role for Leeds under Jesse Marsch last season.

When asked which role he prefers, the 24-year-old added: “If I just say one position then it won’t improve me as a player.

“Playing in a lot of different positions last year really helped me to keep up on and off the pitch, how I view the game, mentally too.

“So I’m excited to play all over the Front Four. I would play right-back if he wanted, but any position up there.

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