Steve Bruce has praised Callum Wilson’s mettle in taking on the challenge of becoming Newcastle’s main man.
The 28-year-old striker is attempting to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jackie Milburn, Malcolm Macdonald and Alan Shearer, who enjoy revered status on Tyneside, after his £20million summer switch from Bournemouth.
He is making a rather good fist of it to date having scored six goals in his first seven Premier League appearances for the club, including both in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Everton, heading into Friday night’s trip to Southampton.
Asked if he had expected the frontman to settle as quickly as he has, head coach Bruce said: “We hoped he would, that was the idea, and that’s why we did what we did, to take away that element of getting to know the Premier League. He’s been in and around the Premier League now for a good few years.
“He’s done very, very well. He’s settled in very well because it’s never easy to be the centre-forward at Newcastle, so fair play to him. He’s grasped it and looks as if he’s enjoying his football at the minute.”
Wilson arrived at St James’ Park with four senior England caps and a single international goal to his name and with ambitions to add to those tallies.
Asked if he should be on Gareth Southgate’s radar once again, Bruce said: “Look, I have a hard enough job picking my squad, let alone doing Gareth’s job. But he certainly must be in with a shout because of the amount of goals he’s scored and the season he’s having.”
Friday night’s fixture might have seen Wilson go head-to-head with another in-form England striker in the Saints’ Danny Ings, who had found the back of the net five times this campaign before knee surgery interrupted his season.
Bruce said: “I think I speak on behalf of all football fans, I’m so pleased it’s not one of those that is going to keep him out for another 12 months.
“Thankfully, it looks as if it’s a minor operation that might keep him out for four to six weeks.
“He deserves a bit of luck because the way he’s come back from two cruciate injuries is a quite remarkable achievement, so I wish him the best of luck and I’m so pleased that it’s not that serious.”