Reading manager Jaap Stam has admitted that he did discuss a potential move for James Wilson during the summer, although insists there is currently "nothing in" speculation that the Royals could swoop for the forgotten Manchester United striker when the transfer window re-opens for business in January.
Academy graduate Wilson, who memorably netted a brace on his United debut, made the last of 20 senior appearances for the Red Devils under Louis van Gaal in October 2015 when he was withdrawn at half-time during a shock League Cup fourth round defeat to Middlesbrough.
He was subsequently dispatched on loan to Brighton & Hove Albion, where he scored five times in 27 outings to help Chris Hughton's side reach the Championship play-offs.
The 21-year-old embarked upon another temporary stint in the second tier with Derby County in August 2016, although such an arrangement was cruelly cut short after just four appearances due to an anterior cruciate ligament knee injury sustained during training that required surgery.
United recently claimed that "several clubs" showed an interest in Wilson throughout the summer window, although he eventually stayed put and has since gradually built up his fitness by featuring for Ricky Sbragia's Under-23 team.
Asked about that interest during a press conference held before the former's trip to Sheffield United on Saturday (21 October), ex-United favourite Stam was quoted as saying by the Reading Chronicle: "I know about it and we already spoke about him in June. But at the moment there is nothing in that."
The Dutchman went onto confirm that last season's beaten play-off finalists were already looking at potential players to improve an underperforming squad in January, although he refused to divulge any identities and stressed that it will be difficult to convince clubs into selling their best players during the middle of the season.
"Even now we are working hard and making contact, but that's up to me," he added. "I'm only saying what I would like to see happen in terms of what we need to do. It's up to [chief executive] Ron Gourlay and [sporting director] Brian Tevreden now in how they approach it. The fact we are always talking about the team, players and what to do means there is a budget there."
The failure to splash out on another out-and-out striker to follow the addition of Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was the one major criticism of an otherwise impressive window for Reading, with 2016-17 top scorer Yann Kermorgant, 35, sidelined for several months after undergoing hip and groin operations.
That oversight has been exacerbated during a hugely disappointing start to the new campaign for the division's fourth-lowest scorers and concerned supporters will be relieved to hear that Kermorgant is back training with the group and should soon be available for selection once more.