Mousset has not made a competitive appearance since July, with concerns about his fitness and conditioning casting doubt about whether or not he will ever realise his potential in South Yorkshire long before an injury sustained during a pre-season fixture against Preston North End forced him to miss United’s opening five games of the new Premier League campaign.
Although Wilder is known to have been frustrated by the Frenchman’s failure to harness his talents following a £10m move from AFC Bournemouth 15 months ago, the United manager chose to place a protective arm around Mousset’s shoulder when he elected to miss the final two games of last term to spend time with his partner and their newborn baby.
Asked how Mousset and Jack O’Connell, who recently underwent surgery to cure a long-standing knee complaint, are progressing, Wilder’s response should reassure the 24-year-old about his status at Bramall Lane.
“They’re both coming along,” Wilder, whose side visit Liverpool this weekend, told The Star. “It was a huge blow with Jack and he’s still got a long way to go.
“Lys is looking well. I’m not sure his gear is to my taste, not the stuff I’ve just seen him wearing in the corridor. Obviously it will have cost a number, because that’s the way it is these days. But you won’t catch me wearing it.
“Lys’ attitude and personality lifts everybody. He’s a good lad with a bit of an aura around him. They are huge players for us.”
Wilder’s words, and particularly his tone, will encourage Mousset as he attempts to replicate the form which saw him score five times in 10 outings last autumn; a sequence which included efforts against Everton, Manchester United and Arsenal. Wilder is not renowned for his patience with footballers suspected of being high-maintenance, but aware of his ability and issues in his personal life, is clearly prepared to make an exception in Mousset’s case. In return, Wilder will want to see Mousset demonstrate a fresh sense of purpose when he leaves the treatment room. Rather than being a threat, Rhian Brewster’s presence following a record breaking move from United’s next opponents represents a chance for Mousset to establish what could prove a devastating partnership with his new team mate.
“There’s always opportunities,” Wilder said. “Someone coming in should be seen as bringing exactly that.”
O’Connell was recently pictured being put through a weights session at the Steelphalt Academy, after a specialist in London oversaw the procedure United hope will repair damage to a joint which has been troubling him for the past few seasons.
A two-time promotion winner under Wilder, helping United climb out of League One and then the Championship since arriving from Brentford, O’Connell has expressed the belief he could return to action by the spring. But coaching staff are planning to be without him until the summer.