Wednesday 07 May 2014
Manchester United striker Robin van Persie was full of praise for team-mate James Wilson after the 18-year-old marked his Barclays Premier League debut with two goals in a 3-1 victory over Hull City marked by significant performances from Academy graduates.
The 18-year-old Wilson, who was handed his first start alongside fellow Barclays Under-21 Premier League regular Tom Lawrence, rewarded the faith of interim manager Ryan Giggs by opening the scoring in the 31st minute, before doubling his tally in the second half from close range.
Van Persie, who replaced Wilson just after the hour mark, produced the decisive goal after Matty Fryatt had reduced the arrears for the visitors, to seal a 3-1 success for the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League champions and the Netherlands international was impressed by Wilson's impact.
"James played really well," said van Persie. "I know how hard it is to make your debut [for United]; I made mine when I was about 29! I know how special it can be. He made it very special for himself and for everyone tonight. To score two goals is really special."
"James played really well. To score two goals is really special"
Robin van Persie
The precocious Wilson has made great for progress for United this season, continuing his habit of playing in teams in advance of his years by breaking into the Under-21 side in December. The England Under-19 international top scored with seven goals in nine appearances to help Warren Joyce's side reach the Barclays Under-21 Premier League final, which takes place at Old Trafford on 14 May, against Chelsea.
"It's always been the way at United, to give young players a chance," said Giggs afterwards. "He [Wilson] is a good player, he is exciting. He has trained with us the last couple of days and not looked out of place, and so has Tom [Lawrence]. It's great to have kids who have been at the club for so long. I think they have all been at the club since they were eight."
Lawrence, who played in the United side that won last season's Barclays Under-21 Premier League with a 3-2 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford, was rewarded with his top-flight debut for excelling in seven outings for Joyce's charges this term.
And the other graduate from the Under-21s to shine for United's first team last night needs no introduction. Adnan Januzaj has been a shining light in his breakthrough season for the Red Devils this season, and again proved a constant threat in his 25th first-team appearance of the season against Hull.
"We see the young players they've got today, Januzaj in particular, that kid's going to be a superstar isn't he?" said Hull manager Steve Bruce. "If he keeps his feet on the ground, which I'm sure they will do here, then he's got everything the boy."
Supporters can watch Wilson and Lawrence, among United's latest crop of promising youngsters, in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League final next Wednesday, at 7.45pm, at Old Trafford, in a match that will be televised live on Sky Sports.
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