James Wilson
James Wilson's season-long loan stint at Derby County in 2016-17 was ended prematurely by a serious knee injury Getty Images

Manchester United have sanctioned their first deal of the January transfer window so far by allowing striker James Wilson to join Sheffield United on loan, with the Blades wasting little time in strengthening their squad for a potential Premier League promotion charge.

Much sought-after for a third stint in the Championship after recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament knee injury suffered during a short-lived five-game spell at Derby County in October 2016 and spending the first half of this season with Ricky Sbragia's Under-23s, Wilson had been linked with a flurry of second-tier clubs including Leeds United and Reading.

News of Sheffield United's interest emerged earlier this week and a move to Bramall Lane was quickly confirmed on Wednesday afternoon (10 January) as part of a double deal that also saw midfielder Lee Evans sign from Wolverhampton Wanderers on a three-and-a-half-year deal for an undisclosed fee.

Last season's runaway League One winners, currently seventh in the second tier and one point outside the play-off places after a rocky patch of pre-Christmas form, also wrapped up their long-term pursuit of Southend United midfielder Ryan Leonard on Tuesday (9 January) as Chris Wilder's side look to realise their ambitions of a second successive promotion.

"James has a fantastic pedigree, having come through the ranks at Manchester United and, importantly, has some good Championship experience," the manager said of Wilson, who also scored five times in 27 outings for Brighton & Hove Albion during the 2015-16 campaign.

"He says he is raring to go and is the fittest he has ever been, so couple that with his undoubted ability and desire to impress, then I'm sure he will improve the group."

Wilson, who netted twice on his United debut and made the last of his 20 senior appearances under Louis van Gaal in October 2015, joins a Blades attack that have scored the joint-third highest number of goals in the Championship to date in 2017-18.

They are spearheaded by the experienced duo of Leon Clarke and Billy Sharp, the former of whom currently sits ahead of Derby County's Matej Vydra as the division's top scorer with 15 strikes to his name since August. Clayton Donaldson and Caolan Lavery are also on the books, while Ched Evans is now back in full first-team training following a long-term ankle injury.

Wilson, Evans and Leonard - the latter of whom are said to have cost a combined £1.5m ($2m) - will all hope to play some part for their new club on Friday (12 January) night as Sheffield United face the small matter of a home Steel City derby clash with struggling rivals Sheffield Wednesday, who will be led for the first time by new manager Jos Luhukay.