Louis van Gaal has confirmed Manchester United do retain the option to recall James Wilson from Championship promotion contenders Brighton and Hove Albion should his attacking issues deteriorate further over the coming weeks. Several eyebrows were raised following the decision to allow the 20-year-old to head south on a season-long loan deal in November, and two goals in his first four appearances have done little to appease those who felt he should be given a chance to impress at Old Trafford amid the club's recent attacking struggles.
Wayne Rooney had scored just two Premier League goals prior to missing the last three matches in all competitions with a hamstring injury, while summer signing Anthony Martial has not found the net in league football since his brace against Southampton back in September. Memphis Depay is also yet to find any real consistency in the final third since joining from PSV Eindhoven in June, leaving Juan Mata as their leading top-flight goalscorer with just four.
Disappointment at United's lack of attacking prowess has been further exacerbated by Wilson's promising start on the south coast and Javier Hernandez's stellar record of 10 strikes in just 11 Bundesliga outings following his move to Bayer Leverkusen. But while that transfer was permanent, Van Gaal can still opt to cut short the former's loan deal if he feels it would be beneficial to the team.
"We have sent him [Wilson] to Brighton because he needs match rhythm and he has to show his qualities," he was quoted as saying by The Mirror at a press conference held prior to the visit of Norwich on 19 December. "We have extended his contract because of his qualities and we believe in him. If we are in trouble we can recall him."
United's rare sequence of four goalless draws already this season has led to inevitable suggestions that Van Gaal will need to return to the transfer market in January 2016 despite spending approximately £108m ($161m) on new players during the previous window. While the Dutchman has not ruled out that possibility, he is only too aware of the difficulties associated with trying to sign in-form strikers during the season.
He added: "Goals are the most important thing, we have to always look for solutions to make goals. We are doing that but we have to look for the solutions in our selection, that's important. Maybe we have solutions elsewhere but that's more difficult, because in January clubs shall not let go of players who score."