James (right) was named as the fans’ man of the match in Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Perth at Optus Stadium

Had events turned out differently, Daniel James would have been landing in Perth on Sunday afternoon and beginning the process of shaking off jet-lag in time for Wednesday night’s pre-season encounter between old rivals Leeds and Manchester United at Optus Stadium.

James is still preparing for that game – but as a Manchester United player, rather than the Leeds one it looked like he would be back in January.

“It’s surreal,” the 21-year-old told BBC Sport, with the warm words of new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ringing in his ears after a pleasing debut in the 2-0 friendly win over Perth Glory on Saturday.

“The amount of fans that came to training on Thursday, then those who came to the game against Perth Glory. It just shows the support this club has got. It is amazing really.”

The Ryan Giggs factor

Former Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs gave James his international debut for Wales

It would be grossly unfair to burden James with the tag of being ‘the next Ryan Giggs’.

There are hardly any players who have achieved half of Giggs’ 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and 963 United appearances.

Nevertheless, Giggs was a key figure in James’ £15m summer arrival at Old Trafford.

It was Giggs who gave the Yorkshire-born wide man his international debut for Wales against Albania in November 2018. And, after James’ proposed move from Swansea to Leeds collapsed on deadline day in January – with the player sitting at Elland Road waiting to sign after completing his medical – it was Giggs who steered his fellow countryman towards Old Trafford.

“He wasn’t bad was he?” said James. “Every young winger looks up to someone like him and he is obviously someone I aspire to be like. As soon as I came into the Wales set-up, he had ambitions for me and, after I joined United, he made a point of speaking to me and telling me to be myself.”

Not just a speed merchant

James was warmly greeted by United fans in Australia, taking time to pose for photographs and sign autographs

James has already impressed United staff with his maturity.

After Thursday’s open training session had finished, James willingly signed autographs and posed for selfies for an additional 15 minutes, long after most of his new team-mates had headed off to get changed.

On Saturday, there was no sign of nerves on his debut, although striker Anthony Martial and goalkeeper Sergio Romero made a point of giving the 21-year-old a hug of support before kick-off.

Evidently, speed is James’ major asset. In the process of scoring for Swansea against Brentford last season he ran 84 yards in 8.48 seconds.