Former academy coach Clayton Blackmore has claimed that James Wilson was the best youngster he worked with at Manchester United, insisting the Englishman practically scored with every shot.
Wilson exploded onto the scene in May 2014 with a brace after caretaker boss Ryan Giggs handed him his senior debut against Hull City.
He went on to make 16 appearances under Louis van Gaal but has more recently suffered with injury problems during loan spells at Brighton and Hove Albion and Derby County.
And Blackmore, reflecting on the players he saw at Man United, remarked that Wilson’s accuracy in front of goal was second to none.
“He probably was [the best]. He was a bit sulky but we have all got problems, everyone is different,” he said.
“He wasn’t on it all the time but when he was playing he would score. He used to do it in training, too. I remember the goalkeepers in training saying ‘We’re OK. Willo’s not playing today!’ Every time he took a shot, he scored.
“He’s got to prove it now. He knows he has to dig deep and produce at Sheffield United.”
There are some players who just naturally click in front of goal – as if the box is where everything starts to make sense – and Wilson is certainly one of them.
Anybody who watched him at youth level speaks effusively about the silent killer approach he brought to the table, subtly yet assuredly finding space in the box and, when needed, turning up the heat and eating up ground at will.
The talent is there, but at this level that simply isn’t enough. And for Wilson, in sharp contrast with Marcus Rashford, luck has rarely been on his side: he would have watched Rashford score a brace against Arsenal from a treatment table in the Championship.
In another life, things could have turned out very different, but Wilson now has a chance to reasser himself with promotion chasing Sheffield United over the next couple of months.