Newcastle United will return to Premier League action today when they head to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City following their disappointing defeat in the League Cup final at Wembley last weekend.
Eddie Howe will be keen for his team to bounce back and channel their focus into their promising Premier League campaign which could result in a chance to compete in European football next season if they continue their incredible form.
The Magpies are fifth in the top-flight table and no other team has conceded fewer defeats so far, however, they have also tallied up the joint-highest amount of draws (11) which has seen them recently fall out of their long-standing position in the top four with Tottenham Hotspur four points clear in fourth.
Taking all three points from their visit to Manchester this afternoon would give Newcastle a great opportunity to close the gap with Spurs and continue their ambitious pursuit of Champions League football next season, anything less could cause them to fall even further away.
As a result, Howe must look to his squad to improve performances and the attacking threat, in particular, as they haven’t won a Premier League game since the 15th of January against Fulham – picking up three draws and one defeat thereafter.
One player who has been an inconsistent presence since the turn of the year is Callum Wilson and now the Newcastle boss must make an important decision on the popular striker’s selection in the difficult meeting with Manchester City.
Should Howe ditch Callum Wilson vs Man City?
There is no doubt that Wilson has been a consistent and reliable performer in front of goal for the Magpies over his time at St James’ Park – tallying up 68 appearances, 27 goals, and registering eight assists, however, injury issues have always plagued the player.
In the first half of this season, Wilson was a huge threat in front of goal scoring six times which led to his inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England World Cup squad, however, since returning to action on Tyneside the forward has struggled to be effective.
His most recent appearance as the starting striker at Wembley on Sunday against Manchester United was a testament to how much Wilson has been struggling to impose himself on opponents and led to BBC Radio Newcastle’s John Anderson this week claiming the player “hasn’t looked the same”.
Over his 89-minute performance, the £46k-per-week dud only managed eight accurate passes, 25 touches, and lost possession of the ball every 3.8 touches, as well as failing to have a single shot on target throughout the monumental fixture.
Wilson has only found the back of the net once in the Premier League since returning from international duty in Qatar and now puts his manager under pressure to make changes in the final third to find a resolution.
With that in mind, Howe must now ruthlessly ditch Wilson this afternoon and instead give Alexander Isak the opportunity to prove himself to stake his claim to the starting role in front of goal as the England international’s recent performers have not warranted an extended run in the XI.