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Wilson "must be in with a shout" of England call-up, says Bruce

Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce believes Callum Wilson “must be in with a shout” of an England recall after his superb start to his Magpies career.

The frontman has six goals to show from his first seven Premier League games for United since his summer switch from Bournemouth, including both goals in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Everton at St. James’ Park.

And with Wilson, who has four caps and one goal for his country, again set to lead the line for Bruce’s side at Southampton on Friday night (8pm kick-off), the Newcastle boss lauded his signing’s impact in black and white – and said he believed the 28-year-old shouldn’t be too far away from Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad.

“He’s been around the Premier League now for a good few years, and he works hard for the team. He’s a really good boy, a great lad, works hard, he’s decent in the air, has good pace, holds it up well and the most important thing he does is score a goal,” said Bruce.

“I think he’s got three goals from a yard this year, which is an unbelievable knack. You can’t coach that – it’s just that instinct of being in the right place when the ball flashes across the six-yard box or the goalline, as far as he’s concerned.

“He’s done very, very well, and he’s settled in very well – it’s never easy to be the centre forward at Newcastle, so fair play to him, he’s grasped it. It looks as if he’s enjoying his football at the minute.

“I’ve 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.”

Bruce has a relatively injury-free squad to choose from for Friday’s long trip to the south coast, with only Jonjo Shelvey, Martin Dúbravka and Matt Ritchie sidelined with long-standing problems.

But the likes of Paul Dummett, Ciaran Clark and Matty Longstaff are back in contention, with all three yet to make a league appearance so far this term.

“Everybody’s OK, everybody has come through and trained all week, so we’re fine,” said Bruce.

“We’ve had our fair share (of injuries) – we’re still without Shelvey, young Longstaff’s OK, Dummy’s OK, but obviously Jonjo is recovering and Matt Ritchie is recovering from his operation too, so we’ve had to deal with a few.

“But touch wood, at this particular moment we’re not too bad.”

In-form Southampton, meanwhile, are without talismanic striker Danny Ings, who suffered a knee injury during their 4-3 victory at Aston Villa last time out.

The Saints are currently fifth in the table having won four of their last five games, and Bruce believes it will be a tough encounter for his side.

He also wished England international Ings, who has suffered a number of serious injuries in the past, the best as he begins his spell on the sidelines.

“Since the turn of the year, they’ve been in and around it. They’ve had a remarkable 12 months – I think it was only 12 months ago since they lost heavily to Leicester,” he said, referring to their 9-0 home defeat in 2019/20.

“The way they’ve all performed since then and turned it around, fair play to them. They’ve got a very, very good side, so it’s going to be a tough place to go, that’s for sure.

“One of the main reasons they’ve had the 12 months they’ve had is the performance of Danny, and I think I speak on behalf of all football fans when I say I’m so pleased it’s not one of those that will keep him out for another 12 months. Thankfully it looks as though it’s a minor operation which might keep him out for four to six weeks – this is according to reports, of course.

“I do wish him a speedy recovery. He deserves a bit of luck because the way he’s come back from two cruciate injuries is quite a remarkable achievement, so I wish him the best of luck and I’m so pleased that it’s not that serious.”

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