Callum Wilson delivers Newcastle United fitness home truth with opening day comparison

Callum Wilson opened his goalscoring account for the season with his third opening day goal in a row for Newcastle United.

Wilson’s deft right-footed flick secured a 2-0 win for Newcastle against Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon after Fabian Schar’s stunning 25-yard effort put the hosts ahead at St James’s Park.

The No. 9 also scored on the opening day of last season against West Ham United to put Newcastle ahead in a game they ended losing 4-2.

But under Eddie Howe, The Magpies’ fitness levels have increased dramatically as they were able to outwork and outrun their newly promoted opponents over the weekend.

Newcastle United player Callum Wilson in action during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest at St. James Park on August 06, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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"I can't disagree [with the difference in fitness levels], the opening day last year and the opening day this year,” Wilson admitted.

"You saw a performance by the whole squad [against Forest]. Everybody was still closing down and pressing in the 90th minute.

"It just shows the hard work that's gone on behind the scenes by the players and also credit to the staff who gave us those tasks and got us into this place.

"We were very aware that we'd had a good first half but it means nothing if you don't build on it for the second half, the game is 90 minutes long.

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Callum Wilson of Newcastle United celebrates scoring their side's second goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest at St. James Park on August 06, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

"For us it was important to come out and concentrate when we’re tired and try to put all the work we'd done together as a full performance in the second half by adding goals to it.

"That's what we did today and I think we minimised them to minimal chances. Credit to the guys at the back, it's a clean sheet and congratulations to them."

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On scoring United’s crucial second goal, Wilson added: “It was a nice day at the office. As a striker you always want to get off to a goalscoring start and as a team you want to get off to a winning start.

"They both went hand in hand against Forest and we got the three points. "There was a lot of emotion within the game.

"It was the first game of the season and the fans were excited, and so were the players.

"You are playing against a team who the majority of their squad probably hadn't played in the Premier League before so it was a big occasion for those guys, they ran around with an extra five or ten per cent as well.

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"I think the longer the game went on the quality showed and the fitness levels showed. And we found the right moment to break them down with that goal from Fabby [Schar].

"It took something spectacular to make them start coming out their pockets and when they did it should have been four or five goals to be honest."

Wilson spent six-years working under Howe at AFC Bournemouth, a notable contrast to a Saudi-backed Newcastle looking to push for European football in front of 52,000 fans at St James’s Park.

"Nothing changes from my point of view, he's [Howe] the same, I'm the same,” he added. "He is just in a different working environment and we've got a good squad here.

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"It is a great football club to be at and there's a great atmosphere. With all those things put together they bring a positive outcome.

"That's what is happening."