James Wilson was back on Manchester United under-21 duty on Monday following a brief cameo for Louis van Gaal’s senior side the previous afternoon, and provided another reminder of his goalscoring credentials.
Wilson opened the scoring against Leicester City at Leigh Sports Village, showing a clean pair of heels to the opposition centre-back before rounding the goalkeeper and sliding into the net.
It was, however, not enough to prevent Manchester United from falling to a 3-2 defeat with Jack Barmby, a former member of the club’s academy, netting the winner for Leicester in the final minute of the game.
It will be a defeat that would have been difficult to digest for Wilson and his teammates, although he could be forgiven for allowing his focus to drift towards further opportunities in the first-team following outings in each of their last two games.
The 18-year-old was given 25 minutes against Chelsea as Manchester United searched for a goal, which they found in stoppage time through Robin van Persie, but there was no such luck against Manchester City, a game in which Wilson was involved for the final stages.
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He made his senior bow during Ryan Giggs’ interim tenure following the departure of David Moyes, and responded with a brace in a 3-1 victory over Hull City at Old Trafford.
“James Wilson is not just a finisher, his all-round play is very good and he is exciting,” Giggs said following this performance. Giggs will have surely waxed lyrical to Van Gaal after his arrival at the club.
Van Gaal rates the striker highly enough to have sanctioned the departures of Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck during the summer transfer window, with Wilson now promoted to fourth choice behind some esteemed company.
He will find it difficult to dislodge Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney from their starting positions, particularly given the lack of matches this season, but Van Gaal has demonstrated that there will be opportunities.
Manchester United have spent an unprecedented amount on transfers in 2014 but the chances given to Wilson, less enforced than those provided to Paddy McNair, prove that Van Gaal will also look from within to reinforce his first-team.