Brighton and Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton is confident that James Wilson will return to Manchester United a better player following his loan spell at the south coast club in the season-half of the current campaign. The striker moved to the Championship outfit after failing to break into the Red Devils first team on a regular basis during the first-half of the season under Louis van Gaal — his only appearance in the Premier League came during their 3-0 loss at the hands of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in October 2015.
The striker has made a telling contribution to Brighton's hopes of qualifying to the Premier League next season and despite finishing level on points with Middlebrough, they missed out on an automatic promotion owing to a slightly inferior goal difference to the Riverside Stadium outfit. They now face Sheffield Wednesday in the semi-final of the championship playoffs, which Wilson is likely to be involved in before rejoining United in the summer.
Hughton is delighted with the way the England U21 international has adapted from playing in the reserves at United and training with the first team to playing at a much more higher level in the Championship. Despite Wilson struggling to break into the starting XI, he has scored important goals — five in 25 appearances — to boost their promotion push and the manager, who has labelled him a "natural goalscorer", is confident that he would have scored more if afforded regular game time.
"We've been delighted with him. I think the transition from being at Manchester United and predominantly on the fringes of the first team, training with the first team most days, then to come into the Championship which is completely different," Hughton said, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
"It's about the intensity day-to-day and certainly the games and I think he's adapted well. It's never easy and it's not been over-easy in his period here but he has adapted well. We are very confident that he would have gained great experience from his time here and he will go back to United a better player," the Seagulls manager explained.
"What we have had here at times, we've had a settled two in (Tomer) Hemed and (Sam) Baldock from earlier in the season, hence the reason why James hasn't played or started as consistently as he would have liked.
"When you look at the five goals he has scored, and important goals, I think his contribution has been excellent. Certainly I think if he would have started more games, the fact he is a natural goalscorer, there's no doubt he is a talent and I think he would have got us more goals."
"But I think we've got that nice balance with him between starting and coming off the bench and having an impact. Overall, we have been delighted with his impact," he added.