Loan Watch 2016-17: James Wilson Joins Derby County

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James Wilson has joined Derby County on a season-long loan deal.

The 20-year-old will participate in the Championship, where regular game time in a familiar league will be of long-term benefit.

Familiar after spending the second half of last season on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion, scoring five times in 27 games as the Seagulls missed out on automatic promotion on the final day, before succumbing to Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs.

It was 8 May 2014, in the final home game of the season, when interim manager Ryan Giggs handed Wilson his debut, starting the match against Hull City.

In a fixture that this author was in attendance at, Wilson bagged a brace, the second in front of the Stretford End, as Old Trafford thought they’d seen a new homegrown talent emerge.

The forward from Biddulph, a town close to this author, then saw his shirt number alter from 47 to 49 by incoming manager Louis van Gaal, who wanted him to have a number nine as part of his number, hinting at the utilisation of him as the focal point of attack.

His campaign began well, as he scored all four goals including a second half hat-trick as United thrashed neighbours Manchester City 4-1 to lift the Manchester Senior Cup.

2015 also began promisingly, sealing the Premier League victory against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road and netting in the FA Cup replay against Cambridge United.

This came despite strong competition from Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao as the striking options.

His number altered again in the off-season, right down to 19, as well as signing a new long-term contract in September.

However, he was often overlooked by Van Gaal, despite the shortage of options up front compared to the previous season, and thus his loan move to the south coast emerged.

The rise of Marcus Rashford has done Wilson no favours, however, the attitude, consistency and application of the former highlights it is possible to break through to the first team from youth level and maintain a spot in the squad.

May 2016 saw the appointment of Jose Mourinho, who started Wilson in the opening friendly against Wigan Athletic, but the striker failed to make an impact and was left out of the disastrous tour to China.

He was also left out of last week’s Reserves victory versus Leicester City, despite Warren Joyce’s side failing to have a recognised centre forward in the ranks.

Not turning 21 until December, Wilson now has a full season under the wily Nigel Pearson to make an impression at Pride Park, surrounded by players who will certainly create chances for him.

He has the pace, balance, agility and dribbling attributes to pose most defenders a problem, and regular football in England’s second tier will offer him the chance to stake a claim at United in the long-haul, with Mourinho previously stating he is still a part of his long-term planning.

We wish Wilson all the best in his temporary spell away in the East Midlands.

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