Wilson's chance to grab Strachan's eye

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The Independent Football

Gordon Strachan has laboured to turn Paul Telfer into a right-back, but at Tannadice he will see for himself the natural talent that United have in the pos-ition, a player being groomed by Scotland as a successor to Jackie McNamara, whose departure from Parkhead to Wolves last summer robbed the Celtic manager of one of the men he desperately wanted to keep.

Like McNamara, Wilson is quietly spoken off the pitch but decisive on it. Speculation about a move to Parkhead has followed the 21-year-old for a while now: "It's a rumour that never seems to go away and I don't know where it comes from," Wilson said. "I've been assured that there's no interest in me from Celtic. I'm committed to Dundee United and recently signed a three-year contract."

Everton were also monitoring the player last season, but there is little doubt that if Celtic put in an offer, he would find it hard to resist. His family are season-ticket holders at Parkhead and two seasons ago, when United went there on the final day of the season for Larsson's last appear-ance there, they had begged him to get the Celtic icon's shirt; all he managed was a goal, scoring in a 2-1 defeat, because Larsson did not want to part with his treasured souvenir.

No doubt Wilson's family will have sent him glowing reports of Celtic's 5-0 thrashing of Motherwell in midweek, and it will not have escaped the United player's notice that Strachan is pinning his new Parkhead era on a crop of youngsters.

Wilson's time in the Scotland Under-21 side allowed him to mix with his Celtic counterparts, and with Shaun Maloney, Craig Beattie, Stephen McManus and Ross Wallace making their mark, the Dundee United player can detect a change in his first love.

"They did play quite a lot of the long-ball game under Martin O'Neill," Wilson reflected. "They relied a lot on John Hartson and Chris Sutton. But with Strachan in charge, they prefer to play a passing game. We also try to play the ball about, and it should be a good game."

Facing the Old Firm seems to bring out the best in Wilson. A fortnight ago he was outstanding in midfield as Dundee United drew 0-0 with Rangers at Tannadice. "I think we've got to approach it the same way," Wilson said. " We got in the Rangers players' faces right from the start, so it has to be more of the same against Celtic."