'Outstanding’ Newcastle United star could achieve World Cup ‘dream’ after stunning month

Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson made a statement in front of England manager Gareth Southgate at St James’s Park.

The Newcastle No. 9 grabbed his fifth and sixth goals of the campaign while having a hand in a further two in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa. The four-time England international wasn’t aware of Southgate’s presence prior to the match, but the England boss was certainly aware of Wilson’s during the match ahead of the World Cup squad selection next month.

While Miguel Almiron will rightly take a lot of plaudits for his simply remarkable form in October, Wilson has gone slightly under the radar as one of the in-form strikers in the Premier League heading into the World Cup.

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Wilson’s injury blow against Manchester City back in August looked to have potentially dashed his slim chances of making the England squad for Qatar as he was ruled out for over a month.

Newcastle striker Callum Wilson (c) celebrates after scoring his second goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa at St. James Park on October 29, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

But since returning to the Newcastle side at the start of October, Wilson has barely put a foot wrong with four goals and two assists in six appearances. The Newcastle striker will feel his goal tally should be even higher but perhaps the most encouraging thing has been the fact Wilson has managed to start six consecutive matches in four weeks without any issues.

Wilson has missed a lot of football this year due to injury and there will always be question marks over his fitness, but the 30-year-old’s run of matches in October will only help him both physically and mentally.

His performance against Villa was the highlight of an impressive month for the former AFC Bournemouth forward. As a frustrating first half for Newcastle came to a close, Wilson jolted the match into life with a stoppage time penalty to give the hosts the lead.

Moments later, the striker showed good composure to round the ball past substitute goalkeeper Robin Olsen and apply a fine finish only to be denied by the offside flag.

Wilson then grabbed his and United’s second of the afternoon shortly after the restart as he headed Kieran Trippier’s dinked cross into the left side of the goal from close range.

Upon leaving the pitch as a late substitute, Wilson appeared jovially frustrated not to have scored his first hat-trick for Newcastle. He headed over early on, saw an effort saved in the build-up to Joelinton’s goal and was denied by the crossbar following a header.

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"I was disappointed not to get a hat-trick, it just wasn't happening then 10 minutes to go I get dragged off," Wilson said after the match. "But two goals and an assist, I'll take that as I helped the team get three points today."

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Wilson’s 27 touches were the fewest of any outfield starter for Newcastle, but he was remarkably effective in what he did.

He made almost every touch count as he had more shots than any player in the match and played a key role in every goal as he laid the ball off for Almiron to curl in Newcastle’s fourth of the afternoon.

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Wilson is a goalscorer first and foremost, but his ability to drop deep and link play up can be somewhat overlooked at times. It’s a quality that has helped England’s star striker Harry Kane shine – and it was a side of Wilson’s game on full display on Saturday afternoon.

Despite Wilson missing four games due to injury, Kane and Ivan Toney are the only two Englishmen to have outscored him in the Premier League so far this season – though Wilson has played four games fewer.

If Wilson were to be selected for England, he would at best be a substitute striker behind Kane, introduced from the bench to offer something slightly different. As a result, the physical demands will be significantly less strained than what is expected of him at Newcastle.

And United head coach Eddie Howe has assessed Wilson’s chances of earning his first England call-up as a Newcastle player.

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“I’m not sure what the players know and don’t know about who comes and who’s watching them,” Howe said regarding Southgate’s attendance. “I almost think it’s better you play your normal game, and aren’t over-thinking too much.

"Callum’s of course desperate to be involved with England. It’s one of his childhood dreams. He’ll be really pleased he played so well, scored two goals.

"His overall performance was very good. He’s an outstanding striker.”

Images of a grinning Southgate as Wilson netted a brace against the England manager’s former club certainly bode well for the Newcastle star.

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But for now, Wilson’s focus remains on Newcastle and staying fit and performing in the upcoming matches against Southampton and Chelsea before the World Cup break.

"I've been asked numerous times about the World Cup and yes I'd love to go, but it was time for me to do my talking on the football field,” he said.

"If that's good enough then so be it. All I can try to do is perform for Newcastle and see where it gets me."

After going years without an England international, Newcastle now face the prospect of having three players heading to Qatar with the Three Lions with Kieran Trippier and Nick Pope’s places in the squad effectively secure.

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And the England right-back suggested that Wilson would be a good addition to the World Cup squad.

"Cal deserves huge credit,” Trippier said. “All of our strikers for England are different and Callum offers in behind and hold up play and his goal record speaks for itself.

"He deserves huge credit, he knows that there’s a World Cup coming up and he knows he has to perform.”

At 30, this will likely be Wilson’s last chance to represent England at a World Cup. And if his performances on the pitch are anything to go by, it’s one he looks determined to take. Over to you Gareth.