James Wilson Loan Watch 2015-16: April At Brighton & Hove Albion

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Kieran is a member of the northstandchat.com forum.

Wilson gives a glimpse of his talent as the sun comes out

The suggestion that there has been some sunshine might be a bit extreme, but Wilson certainly showed more in the month of April than he had at times over the course of the season so far. It was a month where we scored 18 goals in 6 games, and although none of those were scored by Wilson and he had only started one game – which only lasted for the first half, his general play and all round contribution was better in a more offensive team. We’ve found a couple of aggressive and creative wingers in the Czech Beckham and Leicester’s pre-Mahrez. We already had the strongest midfield pair in the league with Dale Stephens and King Kayal, but now we have the attacking wingers we’ve needed to take the step from play-off certainties to automatic promotion contenders.

The frustration is that despite the team being set up to be more attacking, with more goals going in and more chances being created, we still aren’t seeing enough of Wilson in the team. With legendary goalscoring miracleman Bobby Zamora struggling with his hip injury, we’re down to just three strikers which includes our 2 goal apologists favourite Baldock and Israeli International goalbotherer Tomer Hemed as well as Wilson. The team unquestionably does well with the Hemed and Baldock partnership but would it not do better with Hemed and Wilson? With two strikers capable of affecting the game in the final third. What Wilson would offer is an all round improvement on League 1’s deadliest striker from two years ago, but Hughton is a fiercely loyal manager who likes to keep a settled team.

You can make the argument that Wilson hasn’t done enough to warrant breaking in the first team, and that’s a perfectly fair stance to take. There have been questions all season about his fitness and whether he can cope with playing first team football week in and week out. There are genuine concerns but also genuine frustration now, for this keen observer at least. Why persist with a striker who can’t score goals when you have a player in reserve who is destined to be a prolific goalscorer, who has a better touch, is quicker over short distances and has the ability to open up defences with his dribbling and ball control. If Wilson were shown the patience that goalphobic Baldock has been all season, maybe the team would have found the goals that until April had evaded us.

Another point to raise is that the team have begun playing better in the better weather. The difference for Brighton has been the middle of December through February spell when we were struggling to score goals, six consecutive blanks with only one clean sheet. As soon as February came, with the stronger squad after the window in tow, we found the goals to re-ignite our season but at no point was Wilson put into the team for any period of time.

With just one month of the season left, it looks like Wilson now is playing out his last few months at the club, a constant back up option despite being capable of playing in the team right now. There have been a few theories about why he hasn’t really broken into the starting line up, from ineffective performances in training to a lack of general fitness and even suggestions that Baldock offers more to the team overall but whatever the truth, it’s disappointing that we haven’t seen more of him in a Brighton shirt. Whilst he might not be Vicente-esque, whose cameos were incredible, he is clearly a very talented player with a bright future, presumably in a team set up to be far more attacking than ours was for most of the season, and definitely at this level if not above.

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