James Wilson explains shirt number change: “Van Gaal wanted me to”

by Sam Peoples

James Wilson got a rare taste of first team football when he replaced Juan Mata for the remaining 20 minutes against Chelsea on Sunday.

The teenage striker struggled to make an impact in his second appearance of the season with little service from his players, having previously come on against Everton three weeks ago.

Wilson, 18, is sporting a new number this season after wearing the No.47 shirt on his debut against Hull City towards the end of last season. The change from No.47 to No.49 seemed strange at the start of the season but Wilson says the manager was behind the decision.

“As I’m a striker, the gaffer wanted me to have a nine in my number, and 49 was the closest,” the striker told MUTV.

The arrival of Radamel Falcao will restrict Wilson’s time on the pitch this season but the impact he had on his debut against Hull in May won’t have gone unnoticed by the new manager who has given the teenager the chance to impress twice this season.

Wayne Rooney‘s imminent return to action after a three-match ban may see Wilson return to reserve team action sooner rather than later but it will be a boost to the 18-year to know that his esteemed manager has the faith to call on him even when his side are trailing 1-0 to the runaway league leaders.

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