Gareth Southgate admits he nearly snubbed £20m Newcastle player
Gareth Southgate admits he nearly snubbed £20m Newcastle player
Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Gareth Southgate admits he nearly snubbed £20m Newcastle player

Callum Wilson has been recalled to the England squad, and manager Gareth Southgate has explained why the Newcastle man got the nod ahead of Ollie Waktins.

Newcastle‘s number nine was dropped by Southgate earlier this year following the World Cup, where Wilson made two appearances off the bench.

He was unable to inspire the Three Lions in Qatar, who fell at the quarter final stage to eventual runners-up France.

After the tournament, Wilson endured a major dip in form, and it resulted in him dropping out of the England squad.

But the £20million man has bounced back in a major way, and is on track to end the campaign as Newcastle’s top scorer. He currently has 18 goals with one game remaining.

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Wilson’s form has resulted in him returning to the international setup, while Aston Villa forward Watkins has missed out. Now the England manager has explained his decision.

Why Gareth Southgate recalled Callum Wilson to the England squad

Southgate has spoke to the Birmingham Mail following the announcement of his latest squad, and explained his striker conundrum.

“Ollie Watkins, I didn’t mention him in the main press conference, but it was very close between him and Callum,” he said.

“Over the season, Callum’s performances have been just ahead. In this recent period of six, seven games, Ollie had a great period and then hasn’t scored for seven or eight games and then Callum has hit form just at the right time.

“Ollie was definitely one that was considered closely.”

Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Chance to end the season on another high for Newcastle’s number nine

There was a real sliding doors moment for Wilson and Watkins back in April. The latter scored a brace in a man of the match performance to help Villa beat the Magpies 3-0. It remains Eddie Howe’s worst defeat of the season.

Since then, Watkins has not scored. In contrast, Wilson has been on fire. He has scored eight times since that loss to Villa, with his goals propelling Newcastle into the Champions League.

It has been the best season of the 31-year-old’s career, and now he has a chance to go out on another high.

England face Malta and Macedonia in Euro 2024 qualifiers next month, and Wilson will be hoping he can take his club form to the international stage ahead of a well deserved break.