Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal believes prodigy James Wilson is ready to compete against first-team strikers Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie for a place in the first XI.

The 18-year-old forward made a sensational debut under interim manager Ryan Giggs last season, scoring a brace in the 3-1 victory over Hull, and is considered the latest wunderkind to emerge from Old Trafford youth system.

An injury during the start of the new campaign hampered his breakthrough into the first-team but van Gaal recently gave him an opportunity prove his worth with two late cameos in the crucial games against Chelsea and Manchester City.

Wilson recently admitted he was looking forward to taking advantage of the departures of Danny Welbeck to Arsenal and Javier Hernandez's loan to Real Madrid to bolster his first-team credentials.

When asked by MUTV if Wilson was pressing for a second start in the top flight, following his last season full debut against Hull City, van Gaal explained: "He has already been knocking on the door for a long time, that I have said in many press conferences. That is not only because he substituted Robin van Persie in the last match. I believe in him but he has competition with [Radamel] Falcao and Robin van Persie."

Van Gaal's comments came after recent reports claimed the Dutchman was considering dropping van Persie for the clash against Crystal Palace on Saturday to give Wilson a chance – as Falcao remains injured on the side-lines.

Meanwhile, the manager has also heaped praise youngster Paddy McNair who is expected to start against Palace following Marcos Rojo's latest injury.

"With him, we have played two victories in a row, so maybe he is the key for our success!" van Gaal said.