McInnes backs Wilson to shine on Dons return

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes

Boss Derek McInnes has backed new signing James Wilson to realise his potential at Aberdeen.

Five years ago Wilson was the hottest young talent in English football when scoring two goals on his Manchester United debut.

However, injuries derailed the striker’s progress and he was released by the Old Trafford club this summer.

McInnes moved quickly to sign the former England U21 international, who was on loan at Pittodrie last season, on a two-year contract.

Aberdeen beat off competition from Sunderland, Preston and American MLS sides to land the 23-year-old.

Now free of the pressures of a huge wage and expectation at Old Trafford, McInnes is convinced Wilson can rediscover his early form.

Wilson made his second Aberdeen debut as a late substitute in the 2-0 friendly win at Peterhead.

McInnes said: “James Wilson has a strong career ahead of him.

“He has pace, lovely feet and great power and accuracy in his shooting when he is really confident.

“If we can get James confident and fit where he is playing with a smile on his face there is certainly performances in him.

“James is a boy I have got to know and there is a confident player in there, a lovely footballer and real technician.

“He also has speed and we just need to make sure we get him polished and with more goals into his game.

“We need a real work ethic to get him as fit as strong as he can possibly be.

“To keep him strong, keep him fit and hopefully that quality comes through in an Aberdeen shirt.”

Wilson is McInnes’ seventh signing of a hectic summer transfer window and he is pushing to get a midfielder in for Europe.

The UEFA deadline to register players for the Europa League first qualifying round with RoPS is tomorrow.

However the Dons will still be able to register a player up to 48 hours before the first leg on July 11 as a wildcard.

McInnes had been in contact with Wilson throughout the summer having underlined his desire to sign him before the end of last season.

Manchester United released Wilson last month when they chose not to initiate the option of an extra one year on his contract.

Wilson scored four times in 32 appearances for the Dons last season but began to hit form in the post split Premiership games.

McInnes said: “I have kept in touch with James since the back end of last season and we had been hopeful.

“He is a boy who we hope now he is an Aberdeen player and not a Manchester United player that we can work him and try to get those performance.

“James has clearly got the potential.

“The fans saw spells of that especially towards the end of the season when he was really influential.

“Especially with his assists, chances created and the winning goal at Easter Road.

“We feel he is someone that has maybe now found a home and was keen to come back if a deal could be done.

“There is a young player there who has had a lot to deal with in his short career but his best years are ahead of him.

“Hopefully he can repay our faith in him and he sees us as the right place for us to kick on now.”

Aberdeen have received a fitness boost for the Europa League tie with RoPS as Craig Bryson, Niall McGinn and Connor McLennan all returned to training today.

All three have been injured through pre-season with summer signing Bryson recovering from an ankle ligament injury.

Wingers McGinn (ankle ligament) and McLennan (knee) are recovering from surgery.

McInnes said: “Craig Bryson will train today along with Connor McLennan and Niall McGinn.”

Aberdeen defeated League One Peterhead with goals from Sam Cosgrove and Shay Logan either side of half-time.

McInnes said: “There was a bit more penetration, tempo and aggression to our play than there was on Saturday.

“In terms of the Connah’s Quay Nomads (0-0 draw in Cork) game we were effectively playing on a training pitch in front of a handful of supporters.

“It does feel like an extension of your training.

“However at Peterhead the supporters came out in numbers to see the team and were keen to see us play which helped the game.”

Peterhead assistant manager David Nicholls said: “My players were excellent, particularly in the first half.

“Aberdeen were always going to have the majority of the possession but my boys dug in and were quite dangerous at times.”