NEWCASTLE: Callum Wilson faces a late fitness test ahead of the visit of Chelsea to Tyneside on Saturday.
The Newcastle United frontman — called up to Gareth Southgate’s England World Cup squad this week — was withdrawn halfway through the 4-1 win at Southampton last weekend due to illness, and was absent from his side’s Carabao Cup win over Crystal Palace in midweek.
“We’ll wait and see,” said Eddie Howe, Newcastle’s head coach, when asked whether the striker will be fit to face Chelsea.
“He’s been training separately from the group this week. He had an illness so he’s been away from the group. He’s been working well but I need to make a decision on whether or not he’s fit enough to play.”
Wilson’s absence would probably mean another start for experienced New Zealander Chris Wood, with record signing Alexander Isak still sidelined.
Howe expressed his delight at Wilson’s first international call-up since 2019, which predates his Newcastle transfer.
He said: “It’s an amazing thing for him individually and for his family.
“Callum’s had a difficult career. It’s not always been about the successes, and he’s risen from the lower league to the Premier League and now to the World Cup.
“It’s been a brilliant thing to witness for me, and then when you see how it’s been achieved, it’s been through dedication and consistency to his work and a really positive mindset.
“When he got injured, his first instinct was ‘I’m going to come back better.’
“It’s not just talking with Callum, he actually delivers. He’s got a way of scoring goals, so I’m delighted for him. I hope he can make a real impact.”
While Wilson was a bit of a surprise Southgate inclusion in the 26-man squad for Qatar, Howe knows the player is not going to make up the numbers.
He said: “He’s going to want to contribute, for sure, because he doesn’t want to just go there in name. He wants to go there and contribute.
“I think he will give everything after our last game to prepare himself and be ready to do that for England.”
Meanwhile, it is understood airline Saudia could be set to announce a sponsorship with United.
Representatives sporting Saudia uniforms were spotted at St. James’ Park and on the city’s Millennium Bridge, posing for photographs, on Friday.
Further detail is awaited on new sponsors as the club look to increase their commercial revenues to balance out the more than $200 million spend, and still sit within Premier League Financial Fair Play rules.
Sales outlet Noon confirmed a multi-million dollar shirt sleeve sponsorship earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have been drawn against fellow Premier League side Bournemouth in the last 16 of the Carabao Cup. The tie will be played on or around Dec. 20 at St. James’ Park.