NEWCASTLE: Stand-in skipper Callum Wilson has told Newcastle United to produce a season-ending ‘statement’ performance at relegation-threatened Burnley.
The Magpies head to Turf Moor this afternoon knowing a win could put them in the top half of the Premier League table. Three points against Burnley might lift them to 10th position, depending on results elsewhere.
Wilson is expected to lead the line again despite suffering a nasty facial injury in the win against Arsenal.
“We have one more important game. We can finish higher up the league, Burnley are fighting relegation. There is a lot riding on it. It won’t fizzle out. We will try to do the job,” said the England international frontman.
“We thank the fans for the atmosphere they have created. Since the takeover it has been fantastic, it has breathed life into the city.
“We brought players into the squad in January. There is a good team environment and everyone is together.
“There are a lot more chances there for a striker and next season is going to be a good one. Everyone wrote us off and we have proved people wrong week in, week out. We can finish in the top half of the table and what a statement of intent that would be for next season.”
Wilson led the team out to a wall of noise and sea of colour at St James’ Park last Monday night, as the Magpies signed off on home turf with arguably their stand-out performance of a topsy-turvy season, beating Arsenal 2-0.
The 30-year-old is expecting a hostile atmosphere, especially given that Mike Jackson’s side can secure safety with a win.
“We have run ourselves into the ground for the cause. We have an unbelievable atmosphere at St James’ Park. (Last week) when we heard it and walked out to it, it made the hair on my arms stand up and gave you butterflies in a good way.
“The thought of playing in the Championship? This club is Premier League and we had to show that. We have managed to get results.
“I watched for a while on the sidelines and was so excited to get back out amongst it. I want to score. We can finish in the top ten. We have to focus on ourselves. It will be hostile and we have to thrive under that and silence them.”
Head coach Eddie Howe might yet recall club captain Jamaal Lascelles to the United starting XI for the final game of the season.
Lascelles has seen very little game time in the second half of the campaign, but that has not affected his leadership skills.
Howe said: “I have to say Jamaal has been an exceptional captain for us and the biggest compliment I can give him is when he was out of the team, and when you’re captain of the club, how do you act in that moment? That was a real test of his leadership and I have to say his response was brilliant.
“For me, it elevated him as a captain because of that. He was positive, led really well around the group. It’s very easy to fall into your own psychology or thinking if you’re disappointed you’re not playing and let that affect you negatively — it didn’t. He has elevated his leadership, been a brilliant captain on and off the pitch.
“It’s not ideal that the armband changes around, you want a consistent leader in your group but actually, the benefits of that happening is it inspired leadership from other people. Callum took the armband and led the team really well. The more leaders I can have in the group, the better.”