Wales manager Ryan Giggs called Daniel James “streetwise” to stay down after a heavy collision and insisted the Manchester United winger had passed concussion protocols to continue playing in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Croatia.
James was clattered by Domagoj Vida in the 14th-minute of the 1-1 draw at the Cardiff City Stadium, with the Besiktas defender booked for his rash challenge.
The 21-year-old looked as if he would have to be substituted when a stretcher was sent on to the pitch, but he was able to rejoin the action after receiving lengthy treatment from medics.
“The physio came over but there was no problem,” Giggs said. “We did all the (concussion) tests at half-time and he was fine.”
James has twice been booked for simulation since joining United in a £15million move from Swansea last summer.
Giggs has defended James in the past, saying he is not a diver and needs greater protection from referees.
But Giggs suggested James was not as badly injured as many had feared after being sent sprawling by the combative Vida.
“He stayed down and was a bit streetwise,” Giggs said.
“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.”
Bale’s 33rd goal for Wales, slotting home after some determined play from Ben Davies, gives them hope going into the final two rounds of matches next month.
Wins away to Azerbaijan and at home to Hungary would secure qualification, as long as Slovakia do not collect more than four points from their last two games.
Slovakia’s next game is in Croatia, with the World Cup finalists needing a point to reach the European Championship next summer.
“We showed character coming back, we didn’t panic,” Giggs said.
“We showed commitment, but quality as well. I don’t get a lot of time with them, but what they showed doesn’t surprise me as I see the quality in training.
“We have played two teams, Slovakia and now Croatia, who can hurt you.”
Wales must head to Azerbaijan next month without the influential Joe Allen.
The Stoke midfielder collected his third booking of the competition and will be suspended for the Baku clash.
“He knew he was on a booking, but I don’t think he realised there was a player behind him,” Giggs said.
“We will miss his composure but we’ve players who can come in.
“Joe Morrell was fantastic to come on in that situation against Croatia.
“We have to win our last two games but that point could be vital.
“We’re relying on Croatia to beat Slovakia, but we need to win our two games. It won’t be easy.”