Newcastle boss Eddie Howe championed Callum Wilson’s World Cup dream after seeing him score twice in front of England boss Gareth Southgate.
Southgate was among the crowd at St James’ Park as one of the men hoping to force their way into the squad for Qatar turned in a fine individual display in a 4-0 Premier League win over Aston Villa.
Wilson’s nerveless penalty deep into first-half stoppage time set the ball rolling, his deft 56th-minute header extended his side’s advantage before Joelinton followed up the striker’s shot to make it 3-0, and he was later denied a hat-trick by the crossbar.
Magpies head coach Howe said: “I’m really pleased for Callum today. I’m not too aware what the players know and what they don’t know about who comes and who’s watching them. I almost think it’s better, you just play your normal game and you’re not overthinking too much.
“Callum is, of course, desperate to be involved with England, it’s one of his childhood dreams, so he will be really pleased that he played so well.
“He scored the two goals and his overall performance was very good.”
Miguel Almiron’s sixth goal in as many games completed what had become a rout, and it might have been more had substitute Jacob Murphy’s late attempt not come back off the upright.
However, Howe was not completely happy with the performance on a day when his side laboured in the first half before cutting loose to claim a fifth win in six attempts and cement themselves in fourth place in the table.
He said: “The first goal is so important in any game. Today we got it, probably from our best move of the half to be honest, and the second half was totally different.
“That’s the football and the style that we want to see on a consistent basis here. I stood back and enjoyed the second half. I thought we were really good.”
But asked if Newcastle had to be considered Champions League contenders, Howe added with a smile: “That’s an outrageous question. We’re just happy where we are. We’re trying to win every game. I’ll let you write the headlines.”
It proved a difficult afternoon for Villa, with new head coach Unai Emery waiting to take up the reins next week.
They lost goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez through concussion before the break after he went down for a second time.
Asked why Martinez had stayed on the pitch, caretaker boss Aaron Danks said: “We’ve got very professional medical staff, they had been on and assessed him and he was okay to continue.
“Then, obviously things have changed or there was a delayed onset of something that has meant that he’s had to come off.
“Emi is fine. He’s showered, dressed, changed, walking around talking to everybody, so he seems fine in himself at the moment.
“Obviously the club will monitor that and they will take care of him in the coming hours and days to make sure that that continues.”