James Wilson might be a striker now for Manchester United but he started his young career as a striker and only moved up front off the back of injuries to his team-mates, and an apparent lack of fitness.
The 19-year-old was prolific for Man United’s U18s and U21s before he made the step up to the senior team and although he is yet to get lots of opportunity, Wilson will be happy with how much progress he has made over the last 18 months of his career.
Speaking to Inside United, Wilson explained how he has developed over time as a player and admits he wasn’t fit enough to be a winger back when he was playing for the U16s, so he was placed up front when injuries created an opening:
Growing up, did you always play as a striker?
JW: No, I started out as a winger but I think my biggest downfall was probably my fitness. I wasn’t really fit enough to be a winger at one point (laughs)! I think there was a point in the Under-15s or Under-16s when I wasn’t fit enough to be a winger, so they put me up front for a few games and I scored a few goals, so it has all gone on from there. Now, I am probably fit enough to play on the wing, so I have always got that in my locker.
So who can we credit for converting you into a striker?
JW: It was Tommy Martin, or maybe another coach before him, but I think he was the one that told me to go up front. We had a few injuries at the time, when we were younger, and I was the only one there who could play up front. Like I say, I scored a few goals in my first few games and here we are today.
With the U21s, Wilson did play on the wing a few times but by that stage he had physically developed and was in fact a real threat on the wing. His pace made it almost impossible for defenders to stop him and that is certainly one of his strongest assets, one which no other striker really has in abundance.
Wilson has had to bide his time this season. Thanks to an early Capital One Cup exit, an FA Cup campaign that faltered against Arsenal and a lack of European football, Louis van Gaal hasn’t given him too starts but next year he’ll no doubt be keen to force his way into the starting XI far more often.