Dan James is a player who thrives on confidence and struggles when he lacks it.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a chance to capitalise on the winger’s big moment for Wales in midweek.
James rifled in a long range goal against Finland, his first international goal in 14 months.
The winger’s previous international goal came at a time when he was flying in his early days at Manchester United.
James scored three goals in his first four United games after a £15 million move amid much fanfare and created expectations he could not live up to.
As his long stint without a goal went on, his confidence dipped, and even the assists began to dry up. He registered six for United in 2019, and has none in 2020.
James did score in United’s final game before the lockdown in March, a 5-0 win over LASK.
It was unfortunately timed. There was no immediate chance for him to kick on, with football taking a three month break.
Eight months ago James was denied a chance to use it as a springboard after getting back on track. This time, the winger could get the opportunity to start for United buzzing and full of confidence, finally.
United now have an opportunity too
James has largely struggled at United this season so far, although he did play well in the away victory at Newcastle.
With his confidence lifted following a goal and an assist in Wales’ win, James will return to Carrington with ‘a spring in his step’, pointed out Roy Keane.
United face West Brom at home on Saturday night and James has thrown his hat into the ring for a starting spot.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rates him. James has been selected as a starter in three Premier League games this season so far. United have won one, drawn one, and lost one.
The United boss is likely to be intrigued to see if James’ performance levels improve, boosted by his international exploits.
If James is going to start for United, as he inevitably will at some stage, the weekend game is an opportune time to put him in.
United have various options out wide, but James offers United something different.
He could be deployed in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and if so, he would be battling Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, and perhaps even Juan Mata or Donny van de Beek for places out wide. Rashford is battling a minor shoulder injury but is expected to be passed fit to play.
An alternative could be that James starts as one of two forwards. Solskjaer has done this before, at home to Liverpool and away to Chelsea.
Having a number of options is a positive where United are concerned amid a tough run of fixtures. It is just good to see James looking like he could be a useful one.
After being left out of United’s last two league games, James is back in contention for this weekend.
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