It may be a surprise to many Manchester United supporters that striker James Wilson is still on United’s books, but the 22-year-old is in his final year at Old Trafford and looking to impress to earn a lucrative contract. The Englishman was sent out on loan in the summer to Scottish side Aberdeen, an opportunity that he needs to grab, and use to prove to his sceptics why United Great Ryan Giggs holds him in such high regard.
At the end of the 2014 season, Interim Manager Ryan Giggs used the game vs Hull City as an opportunity to continue United’s tradition of blooding youngsters into the first team squad; a game that also introduced Wilson to the Old Trafford faithful. Aged 18, Wilson took the spotlight by grabbing his first two career goals in a United shirt in front of his delighted family members. Just a few months from when he was given a place on United’s bench by ex-boss David Moyes away at Newcastle. I bet he couldn’t believe his ears when United legend Ryan Giggs read his name out on the team sheet at Old Trafford in front of 75,000 fans.
A year earlier, on his 17th birthday in December 2012, he was signed by United to play for the U18’s and went on to become their fourth youngest scorer in the Premier League. After marvelling at Wilson’s two goals, Ryan Giggs said ‘He’s a natural goal scorer, but he’s got more to his game than just that.’ Clearly he’s seen more than we have. There must be more to him, but since then the 22-year-old has struggled to play for United and any of the teams he’s been loan to. Recent unsuccessful loan spells at Sheffield United and Derby County saw him make a lacklustre five appearances for The Blades and his loan spell at The Rams was cut short due to a serious knee injury. His most successful loan spell was at Brighton in 2015/16. In fairness, he gained plenty of Championship experience there and also chipped in with important goals, but if ever there was a time for him to up his game and show his worth, it’s now.
To date, Wilson has made 15 appearances for the Red Devils and scored three goals, but a succession of injuries over the last few years has halted any additions. The ex-England U19, U20 and U21 player will be hoping this season’s long-loan at Aberdeen will be a chance to reignite his career and catch the eye of Old Trafford boss, Jose Mourinho. And perhaps his luck is in. This season has started brightly. Wilson is back on the pitch and in the seven appearances he has made for The Dons, he’s scored two goals. His form looks to be improving, but will he get the change to wear the red shirt once again under the famous Old Trafford lights? Time will tell, but as long as injuries hold off, he deserves a shot.