It was telling that, the moment tomorrow’s Steel City derby was mentioned, a beaming smile spread across James Wilson’s face.
The centre-forward, who yesterday joined Sheffield United on loan for the rest of the season, is used to playing in big games. And, in this part of the world, his new club versus Sheffield Wednesday is as big as it gets.
“That’s what you come into football for, isn’t it,” Wilson said, after completing his move from Manchester United. “Matches like these are what you dream of being involved in and, to be honest, I really can’t wait.”
Wilson, aged 22, is scheduled to spend the rest of the season at Bramall Lane after being unveiled alongside fellow new signing Lee Evans. The youngster, who has been capped by England at youth and under-21 level, arrives with plenty of Championship experience having previously completed spells with Derby County and Brighton and Hove Albion.
Crucially, Wilson also brings a different dimension to an attack already boasting the likes of Billy Sharp, Clayton Donaldson and the division’s leading goalscorer Leon Clarke. Something, together with his track record of appearing in high-profile fixtures, he was keen to emphasise after being presented to the media.
“I’ve been involved in quite a few big occasions in the past,” he continued, “So hopefully, if I’m involved, I’ll be able to put my knowledge from those to good use. Sometimes, in games like this, I reckon you can almost think your way out of playing well rather than use the atmosphere and everything surrounding them to do well.
“Going with Manchester United to places like Anfield and Arsenal, they’re really good atmospheres and I know this one is going to be no different. I’m fortunate, coming through at Manchester United, that I’ve been able to learn from ‘big-game’ players and there’s lots of those, lots of experience here, too.”
Wilson, who is now fully recovered from the knee injury which curtailed his time at Pride Park, has made 19 appearances for Jose Mourinho’s side since being awarded his senior debut by then manager Ryan Giggs. Old Trafford’s leading goalscorer at under-23 level so far this season, he was approached by a number of club’s interested in acquiring his services before choosing United.
“The most important thing to begin with was to get fit,” Wilson said. “Once I was, then it was football. Here, really appealed because of everything that comes with it and also because of how well the boys have done so far. Sheffield United is a club that’s expected to achieve and that speaks volumes. I’m really looking forward to it and what better way to start?”