Evening Express

McInnes: Wilson will be flying when up to speed

James Wilson. Picture by Heather Fowlie

Boss Derek McInnes today backed striker James Wilson to make a major impact when he is fully match sharp.

The on-loan Manchester United striker made his Aberdeen debut as a second-half substitute in the 1-1 draw at Hibs.

Wilson has played 20 times for the Premier League giants and scored twice on his debut for the Old Trafford club.

McInnes insists the 22-year-old, pictured, has already shown his class in training but still needs competitive game time.

He said: “We see James as a key player for us this season.

“However, there has to be an understanding that he is a bit behind the rest of the lads as he has not played much competitive football.

“James has not even had the same amount of pre-season games as our boys.

“He played three, maybe four parts of games for Manchester United Under-23s which are nowhere near the level you would get in a competitive game – so he is still a good bit behind us.

“But in terms of his speed, sharpness and level of ability that is something that has been evident.

“We have to make sure we get those games into James to quickly get him up to speed.”

McInnes aims to get more game time from the bench into the former England U21 cap in Saturday’s Premiership clash with Kilmarnock at Pittodrie.

That is the last game before the Premiership goes into a two-week shutdown for the international break with Scotland facing Belgium and Albania.

McInnes hopes Wilson will be in contention to start when the Reds face St Johnstone away in the first game after the break on Saturday September 15.

He said: “We will get some minutes into James again against Kilmarnock.

“We will then get some good work into him during the international break.

“Hopefully James will then be a wee bit closer to having that impact I hope he can make.”

Wilson’s debut was delayed by a week as he was ruled out of the 4-0 Betfred Cup win over St Mirren with an ankle injury sustained in an U23 game for Manchester United.

He made his Aberdeen bow with 18 minutes remaining against Hibs at Easter Road.

Despite his lack of match action this season McInnes reckons Wilson could still have made a real impact on his debut – had his new Dons team-mates been more decisive with passes.

He said: “When Neil Lennon (Hibs manager) made changes to force the game there were loads of gaps in behind them.

“That was tailor-made for James.

“However, with James pushing up on such a high line the choice of pass didn’t find him.

“A couple of times we played that extra pass or wrong pass when we could have countered on Hibs and caused them problems.

“James was on the shoulder a few times and would have been away if we played the right pass.

“And once he is away you will not catch him.

“It was frustrating we did not utilise James fully when teams play a high line as Hibs did late on.

“I think he could give us that impact and could have done that at Hibs. But we have to get used to having that speed at the top end of the pitch.

“Stevie May led the line well but I am excited to get james into the team as well.”