Callum Wilson ‘still an international player’ – Eddie Howe
Eddie Howe is confident Callum Wilson still has what it takes to play for England as he attempts to battle his way out of a personal goal drought.
The 31-year-old striker made two appearances as a substitute for his country at the World Cup finals after recovering from a hamstring injury in the nick of time to make Gareth Southgate’s squad.
He joined up with his international team-mates having scored six goals in 11 Premier League appearances but has managed just one in 12 in all competitions since his return from Qatar and passed up a glorious opportunity to end his famine in last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Manchester City.
Asked if the former Bournemouth frontman still saw himself as an England player, club boss Howe said: “It’s difficult for me to comment for him, but I see him as an international player and I want that for him.
“I’ve never really had long conversations with players about international dreams, my focus is Newcastle.
“That doesn’t mean I haven’t had conversations about international football because that is part of their DNA and a lot of players are motivated hugely by what they do on the international scene.
“I know Callum’s World Cup dream was very strong in his mind and he used it as a big motivational tool. But Callum has always been about more than that. It’s not just short-term targets. He has this vision that he wants to be the best in his field. He is well motivated on every level.
“I don’t see that (the World Cup) as being a big down from that experience. If anything, it was a big high. It left him wanting more. I would say international football is still a big driver for him.”
In the short term, Wilson’s focus is to get back among the goals with the Magpies having scored only three in their last eight league games to slip from third place to sixth, a return which has prompted calls from some supporters for record signing Alexander Isak to be given his chance against Wolves on Sunday.
However Howe, who admitted the Sweden international is not yet ready to play 90 minutes on a regular basis after his own injury problems, said: “Callum has an incredible mindset, he has that already. He is pushing himself all the time.
“In your playing career, you are going to have good spells and bad spells, but you need that inner belief always that you are the best and I think Callum has got that.”