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Gareth Southgate watches on as 3 Newcastle United stars set to be on plane for Qatar World Cup

1 year ago

Gareth Southgate was sitting a few seats along the row from the Newcastle United owners.

He may have been a guest in the Directors Box but even if the England manager had needed to pay for his ticket, he certainly would have got his money’s worth.

The other 52,257 people in inside St James’ Park watched an engrossing match but potentially Gareth Southgate benefited more from watching these 90 minutes than anybody else watching on.

There were eight of the twenty two players who started the game, who qualify to play for England, but how many will be on the plane to Qatar in November…?

Craig Hope writing in The Mail after Newcastle United 3 Manchester City 3:

‘Nick Pope conceded three goals, Kieran Trippier was lucky not to be sent off and Callum Wilson departed on 70 minutes with a tight hamstring.

Yet England boss Gareth Southgate will have left here enthused by a Newcastle trio who each harbour World Cup ambitions, and so they should.

In the case of Pope and Trippier, they will be pushing for a start in Qatar on this evidence, let alone a seat on the plane.

Southgate would have been less encouraged by Manchester City pair John Stones and Kyle Walker, terrorised throughout by man-of-the-match Allan Saint-Maximin. To think, he can’t even make the France squad.

City’s Phil Foden was also out of sorts and Pep Guardiola appeared to blame his eagerness to run forward in breaking the ‘calmness’ of his side.

But rarely will Southgate take in a top-flight game with eight English starters, and his thinking would have lurched in as many directions as this beautifully bonkers contest.

When the gold dust of a Premier League classic finally settles, he will realise that Eddie Howe’s recent claims of Pope emerging as England’s No 1 and Wilson being worthy of squad inclusion are not as outlandish as some perhaps thought. As Guardiola said: ‘England has an incredible keeper in there.’

Wilson, meanwhile, believes that he needs 10 goals before November to win a place in Southgate’s squad. He took his tally to two from three games with a wonderful finish to put Newcastle 2-1 up before half-time.

One thing is for certain, he (Gareth Southgate) will be back at St James’ Park in the coming weeks — and not just because of the entertainment value.’

The two English players not mentioned, who make up the total of eight who started at SJP on Sunday, are Joe Willock and Dan Burn.

Willock is gradually improving and Burn has been excellent since coming back home in January, however, neither will be on the plane to Qatar in November. How about the others though…?

Well, two months ago, I had a bet on Callum Wilson making the England squad for Qatar and got odds of 10/1. After starting the season with quality goals against Forest and Man City, Wilson now only 5/2 to make that Gareth Southgate final squad. Meanwhile, the bookies see Nick Pope (odds of 1/2) and Kieran Trippier (odds of 8/13) as near certainties to be selected in the final 26 man squad.

Earlier this month, Eddie Howe revealed that he had spoken to Gareth Southgate a number of times since he (Howe) arrived at Newcastle United and that the possibility of Wilson getting back into the England squad had been discussed a number of times.

Callum Wilson has four caps for England and one goal but the last time he made an England squad was back in November 2019, before he moved to St James’ Park.

In his final season at Bournemouth, Callum Wilson only scored three goals in his final twenty five Premier League starts after September 2019, which won’t have helped his England ambitions.

Then since moving to Newcastle United, Callum Wilson has scored (23 PL goals) at just better an average of a goal every other Premier League start, his big problem of course with NUFC has been his injury record and he has started only 42 of the 79 Premier League matches in his time at St James’ Park.

Eddie Howe asked by The Mail about possibility of Callum Wilson getting back into the England squad and going to Qatar in November / December – 12 August 2022:

“I have spoken to Gareth (Southgate) a number of times, we have a very good relationship.

“And yes, Callum Wilson has come up (in discussions).

“Of course there is a possibility (Wilson can make the England squad for Qatar), Callum has done it (got into the England squad) before.

“The only thing that has stopped him being regularly in that squad is injuries.

“He will be looking to stay fit and contribute goals for us, and if he does that he will elevate himself back into Gareth’s thinking, for sure.

“The ability is there, touch wood he can play the games.

“I agree (Callum Wilson is not far behind Harry Kane in the pecking order), for me, he’s one of the best strikers in England.

“The only question mark against his name is how many games he plays.

“If he plays enough games, I passionately believe he will score enough goals to play himself into the (England) squad.”

I think the Newcastle striker has an initial immediate one month window at the beginning of this season, where he has to convince Gareth Southgate to give him a try, England only have one more scheduled get together before Gareth Southgate will name his squad and Callum Wilson surely has to make that squad.

On 23 September and 26 September, England play Italy and Germany respectively in Nations League matches. If Wilson isn’t included in that get together then surely he has no hope of then suddenly getting called into the very final squad for Qatar. If Gareth Southgate is considering bringing in somebody like the NUFC striker, who hasn’t featured with England for so long (since 2019), then this September squad is a must.

Callum Wilson might have 16 Premier League games before England head off to Qatar but only seven NUFC Premier League matches to try and impress Southgate for this September get together.

Goals against Forest and Man City the perfect start, now it is Wolves away, Liverpool away, Palace home and West Ham away.

That West Ham match is on Sunday 11 September and Southgate will be naming his squad in that following midweek, before then Newcastle are at home to Bournemouth on Saturday 17 September, before that international break.

A tough set of fixtures for sure, but maybe all the better for Callum Wilson, because if he can knock in say five or six goals or better (three or four now, having got that one on Sunday), then surely he will have every chance of that vital initial return to the England squad.

Last (2021/22) season in the Premier League, when it came to English strikers, you had Harry Kane with 17 goals  but other than him, not many English centre-forwards knocking in many goals last season.

Jamie Vardy got 15 last season, but as things stand, isn’t wanting to play for England any more.

Then after that you had Ivan Toney with 12 last season, Ollie Watkins on 11 goals, but then despite only starting 16 games, no out and out English striker / centre-forward got more than Callum Wilson’s eight Premier League goals.

Other English players such as Sterling (13), Maddison (12), Bowen (12), Mount (11), Saka (11) and Smith Rowe (10) got good numbers of goals but aren’t centre-forwards.

Whilst the likes of Calvert-Lewin will have to show his fitness and form after injury issues and has had the worst possible start, having been ruled out with a new injury from the opening matches thus season, having had an injury and fitness nightmare last season, plus he only scored five goals in fifteen starts.

So, the opportunity is surely there for Callum Wilson, if he can continue to impress for Newcastle United early in the season.

Even with my NUFC bias, I honestly think that Wilson is a better striker and certainly finisher than the likes of Watkins, Calvert-Lewin, Toney etc.

I would also rate Callum Wilson ahead of Tammy Abraham, he got 17 goals in Serie A for Roma last season but in his final Chelsea season only managed six goals in 22 Premier League appearances (including 12 starts). He is decent but I think Wilson a better goalscorer than Abraham.

Harry Kane is obviously automatic first choice but I would rate only Vardy as a better striker / goalscorer than Wilson out of the potentials and he (Vardy) is now 35 years old and seemingly with no interest in an England call up.

I think the reality is that when looking at strikers to go to Qatar, it is a case of Harry Kane starting every match (unless injury hits) and then after that, the most important thing is wanting strikers on the bench capable of coming on and grabbing a goal. Callum Wilson winning that race for me as well.

If he can stay free of injuries this could be a stellar year for Wilson, for club and country.

In June, it was announced that 26 men squads will be allowed for this World Cup, rather then the usual 23, a big lift for somebody like Callum Wilson hoping to make a late run into the England squad.

Good luck to Callum Wilson, for Newcastle United…and England.


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