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EXCLUSIVE: Brighton boss Hughton hails Man Utd youngster Wilson

Brighton & Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton admits the club has been delighted with the loan spell of Manchester United's James Wilson.

The 20-year-old striker arrived at the Amex Stadium from Old Trafford in November and has since scored five goals in 25 Championship appearances for the Premier League promotion hopefuls.

Making the move from simply training with the United first team to being more heavily involved at Brighton has helped bring out the best in Wilson and according to Hughton, the experience will only benefit the talented forward.

"Yes, we've been delighted with him," Hughton told Tribalfootball.com.

"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.

"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."

Wilson scored his first Seagulls goal in a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Charlton Athletic in December, and has subsequently netted in two draws with play-off counterparts Derby County (who meet Hull City), as well as providing winners against Huddersfield Town and Reading.

That's 14 points his goals have helped Brighton amass and there is no hesitation in Hughton's mind that his time on the south coast has been a success despite the fact he has started on only 11 occasions.

"It's his goals as well as his contribution," he added of the England U21 international who will remain with Albion until the end of May.

"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."

Brighton, Wilson and Hughton are preparing for Friday night's play-off semi-final first leg against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough having missed out on automatic promotion to the top flight by drawing 1-1 with second-placed Middlesbrough on the weekend.

The second leg takes place at the Amex on Monday night.

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