Watford v Bristol City: James Wilson eager to make the most of new chance
BRISTOL City defender James Wilson is living proof that patience can be a virtue in the unpredictable world of professional sport.
Deemed surplus to requirements just a few weeks ago, the former Wales Under-21 international appeared to be on his way out of Ashton Gate.
Unable to break into City's Championship starting XI and omitted from the squad altogether at Barnsley earlier this month, the 22-year-old centre-back sought a meeting with manager Derek McInnes to find out exactly where he stood.
McInnes explained he was close to signing a central defender and suggested Wilson go out on loan in his quest for regular first-team football. His name was circulated among other clubs and Yeovil Town and Rotherham United were among those who expressed an interest.
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But things can change rapidly in an environment in which where injury and loss of form are more or less constant factors and City's 5-3 home defeat at the hands of leaders Blackburn Rovers last weekend occasioned a changing of the guard in the heart of the back four.
McInnes dropped veteran centre-half Louis Carey to the substitutes' bench at Peterborough on Tuesday night and called up Wilson for his first start since mid-February, charging him with the task of shackling burly Posh striker Tyrone Barnett.
Having helped the Robins achieve their first away win of the season, Wilson has since banished all thoughts of a move elsewhere and is intent upon retaining his place for tomorrow's Championship clash against Watford at Vicarage Road.
Reflecting on an unexpected opportunity to establish himself in the manager's immediate plans, Wilson said: "Football really is a funny old game.
"When I had that chat with the manager, he told me I would be made available for loan if he brought another centre-back in on loan.
"When I didn't even make the squad at Barnsley, I thought I would have to go elsewhere to get games.
"I'm 22 now and, although I'm still considered a young player, I'm at the age where I want to be playing most weeks.
"I love it here at Bristol City, but, if I'm not in and around the first team and playing games, then moving becomes an option.
"Obviously, I was really pleased to be back in the squad for the Blackburn game and then delighted when I was told I was playing at Peterborough.
"Things have changed around very quickly for me and it just goes to show you have to be patient sometimes. Of course, not playing is frustrating, but you cannot throw your toys out of the pram.
"You have to keep working hard in training and take your chance when it comes. I did quite well in a friendly game last week and that helped me force my way back in."
Now he is back in the starting line-up, Wilson is determined to retain his place at Watford and forge a partnership with Robins skipper Liam Fontaine.
McInnes remains in the market for another centre-back, but, for now at least, Wilson is the man in possession and he has no intention of relinquishing the shirt.
He said: "If the gaffer does bring another defender in, then I have to play so well that it makes it hard for him to leave me out.
"I understand there has to be competition and I don't have a problem with that.
"I'm prepared to fight for my place and I'd far rather be involved here than with another club."