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Newcastle: Joe Willock should have caught Southgate’s eye

With the World Cup looming, a number of Newcastle United‘s English contingent have no doubt put themselves firmly in the mix for a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad, following what’s been a stunning start to the season for Eddie Howe’s side.

The Magpies currently find themselves in third having lost just one of their opening 14 Premier League games thus far, with Sunday’s 4-1 win over Southampton at St Mary’s ensuring a fourth successive top-flight triumph for the high-flying outfit.

That result did see Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier forced off with potential issues, although the pair remain in contention to feature in Qatar, with Wilson having scored six goals and provided two assists in just ten league games this season, while his compatriot has formed part of the league’s most solid defensive unit thus far, conceding only 11 times in 14 games.

There had been a belief that January arrival, Dan Burn, could also make a late push to secure a place in the 26-man squad, although the towering defender did himself no favours in front of the aforementioned Southgate at the weekend, following what was a shaky display from the former Brighton and Hove Albion giant.

The win over Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side – which ultimately spelt the end for the Austrian’s time in charge – did see another Englishman stake his claim for a spot on the plane next week, with midfielder Joe Willock having impressed on the south coast.

The 23-year-old – who was signed on a permanent deal from Arsenal last summer for a fee of around £25m – scored his first goal of the season in stunning fashion on Sunday, latching on to a delightful pass from teammate Trippier before poking his effort past a helpless Gavin Bazunu.

That moment of quality was seemingly just reward for the player’s impressive work ethic of late, with the £80k-per-week ace having “grafted hard” in recent times, in the words of journalist Daniel Wales, despite not always managing to deliver an end product.

The former Gunners starlet – who also laid on two assists in the win over Fulham a few weeks ago – has no doubt struggled to recapture the form he showcased on loan at St James’ Park during the tail end of the 2020/21 campaign, in which he scored eight goals in just 14 appearances, although has remained a firm fixture in the side this season with 12 starts in the league to date.

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Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson celebrates with Joelinton

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While Willock may be an outside bet to earn a place in Southgate’s travelling party, the London-born menace no doubt offers a real forward-thinking and energetic midfield option, as he notably ranks in the top 9% for touches in the attacking penalty area among those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues.

With the Three Lions currently on a miserable winless run that stretches back to March, the national side could well be in need of a fresh face to shake things up a bit, with the Newcastle man likely to have done his chances no harm after this latest outing.

Article title: Newcastle: Joe Willock should have caught Southgate’s eye

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