Callum Wilson seriously betrayed Steve Bruce with an invisible display as Newcastle United lost 1-0 at Sheffield United on Tuesday night – the Blades’ first win of the Premier League campaign.
Bruce recalled the ex-AFC Bournemouth striker to his starting line-up for the Magpies’ trip to Bramall Lane, having decided to sit Wilson out of Saturday’s FA Cup exit at Arsenal as a precaution to avoid the 28-year-old sustaining any injuries.
Wilson has proven a hit on Tyneside since his £20m summer arriving, netting eight goals, but was far from the star on the show in South Yorkshire, where he squandered two great chances to find the net.
Wilson started strongly to cause Sheffield United issues through his lively presence, but left Newcastle wishing for more in the 28th-minute when he made space for himself in the shadow of Aaron Ramsdale’s net only to send his header sky-high from seven-yards out.
Newcastle’s hopes of taking a result at Sheffield United were dealt a further blow just before half-time when Wilson’s former Cherries teammate Ryan Fraser was shown two yellow cards in the space of three minutes.
Fraser was initially cautioned by referee Andy Madley for a late tackle on John Fleck moments after Karl Darlow produced wonders to deny Jayden Bogle, before swiftly receiving his marching orders for a mindless shin-high foul on David McGoldrick beside the touchline.
Madley was again the bane in the Toon’s side late in the second half, when the 37-year-old opted to point to the spot and award Sheffield United a penalty after Federico Fernandez was adjudged to have redirected the ball with his hand under pressure from Billy Sharp.
Fraser and Fernandez’s misjudgements will have left Bruce irate, yet the efforts of Wilson will have brought a sense of great disappointment to the Newcastle boss.
Wilson would take just one further shot on Ramsdale’s goal beyond his glaring first-half miss, which he would head straight at Blades’ shot-stopper Ramsdale to squander a second big chance of the game, per SofaScore.
The 28-year-old, who Magpies icon Malcolm Macdonald lauds as an “excellent footballer and finisher”, also offered no key balls thanks to completing just eight of 13 passes, four fewer than goalkeeper Karl Darlow to help Sheffield United claim a first win of the Premier League season.
Bruce will have expected far more from Wilson at Bramall Lane, where the £46,000-per-week striker further lost six of his 10 ground duels and six of nine aerial duels (a total of 63% duels lost), turned over possession 17 times, committed one foul, lose all four dribbles and misplaced his only cross of the night.
His tame and wayward shooting meant Wilson has now scored just once in his last five top-flight appearances, and leave the Toon eight points from the relegation zone having played two games more than 18th-placed Fulham.