The reason Newcastle United must cash in on Callum Wilson is obvious

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Callum Wilson can no longer be relied upon to carry Newcastle United to lofty heights

Can anyone who has missed 34 per cent of Newcastle United’s league games be considered indispensable? That is exactly how many top-flight fixtures Callum Wilson has been sidelined for since joining the Magpies three-and-a-half years ago.

It was Steve Bruce who twisted Mike Ashley’s arm to sign the former Bournemouth striker. Newcastle’s top scorer the previous season was Jonjo Shelvey with six and Joelinton, then a number nine, had failed to justify his £40million price tag.

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Paying £20million for a 28-year-old with a suspect injury record was foreign territory for Ashley. He liked his incomings young and with a high resale value - the antithesis of Wilson. An uncertain economic climate due to Covid-19 added another dynamic threatening to block the move.

But low and behold, the guarantee of Wilson’s goals ensuring Premier League survival was a big enough carrot to dangle for the Sports Direct tycoon. That is exactly what the No.9 - who still wears the iconic jersey to this day - delivered, with important strikes against Burnley, Everton and Leicester City springing to mind.

Wilson has continued to score regularly for Newcastle when fit. Bagging 45 goals in 89 Premier League games is an impressive return for a striker who spent most of his Tyneside tenure battling relegation.

The one season he fought for a Champions League spot resulted in Wilson scoring 18 goals. He is currently third on United’s all-time list for Premier League strikes - but now is time to move on.

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Newcastle have reportedly received enquiries from Atletico Madrid and AC Milan about a potential move this month. If Toon chiefs receive a solid offer, they should snap their hand off and laugh all the way to the bank.

While he has been one of the best No.9s of the post-Alan Shearer era, Wilson’s injury record makes him unreliable. Newcastle are perennially having to cope and adjust their thinking without him.

There have been seven occasions throughout his three-year stay when Wilson has missed at least four consecutive games through injury. From hamstring problems to calf strains, the England international has damaged it all.

The bleakest spell on the sidelines came in early 2021 when his seven-game absence saw Newcastle fail to win a game and hurtle towards relegation. But in terms of duration, his 16-game setback tops the charts.

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Newcastle are walking a tightrope as long as they rely on Wilson to produce the goods. Especially as Alexander Isak, the present and future of the Magpies’ frontline, has also exhibited fitness concerns.

At 32 next month, now could be the only time for Newcastle to cash in on Wilson before his stock plummets. A trusted Eddie Howe lieutenant he might be but that is a moot point. If AC Milan or Atletico cough up, Newcastle need to book that taxi to the airport.

This is not a diatribe towards Wilson - he has been immense for the black-and-white cause. It is simply a suggestion that now appears the time for a changing of the guard. Toon fans will remember him as someone who did the No.9 shirt well. Is Isak the next incumbent?

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