It’s been 129 days since Wilson last kicked a ball in anger.
Wilson suffered an Achilles/calf injury in a challenge with Manchester United’s Fred in a 1-1 draw on December 27. The striker attempted to play on, but he was withdrawn just before the break after breaking down.
Days later, with the club 19th in the Premier League, it was revealed that Wilson was facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The outlook for the club looked bleaker without Wilson, whose 12 goals had helped keep the club, which had only won just one game at that point, in the division the previous season.
And the loss of Wilson forced the club’s hand the following month, when Chris Wood was recruited for £25million.
This week Wilson joined Trippier and his team-mates on the training field ahead of Sunday’s fixture against Premier League leaders Manchester City, knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid last night.
One or both could be involved at the Etihad Stadium, where Newcastle have never recorded a league victory.
The odds are stacked heavily against them on Sunday, but the return of Wilson and Trippier would significantly strengthen Howe’s hand. They could help turn a bad week for City into an even worse one.
Of course, there were fears earlier this year that the respective returns of Wilson and Trippier would come too late to save Newcastle, now 10th in the table and safe from the threat of relegation.
If there was one player that the club, which spent almost four months in the drop zone, couldn’t afford to be without for any length of time, it was surely Wilson, it’s talismanic No.9. The subsequent loss of Trippier had seemingly compounded this blow.
The fact that United have prospered without Wilson, signed from Bournemouth in the summer of 2019, says a lot about how far the club has come over the past few months under Howe.