Callum Wilson is in the form of his life as his goals edge Newcastle ever closer to Champions League qualification.
That is the view of Magpies head coach Eddie Howe, who worked with the England striker during the pair’s time together at Bournemouth before they were reunited at St James’ Park.
Wilson is enjoying the Premier League goals return of his career with 18 to date, the last 11 coming since the beginning of April and eight of them in his six most recent appearances, the perfect response to record signing Alexander Isak’s presence on Tyneside.
Asked if the 31-year-old’s rich vein of form was his best yet, Howe said with a smile: “He’ll probably tell me there’s been a better spell somewhere down the line, I imagine.
“The season he was in the Championship with us, my first season with him at Bournemouth, I thought he was electric.
“But this is at the very highest level, this is against the best defenders in the world, the best teams in the world and he’s performing at probably, I’d say, the best level I’ve ever seen him at.”
Wilson’s latest telling contribution came in Thursday night’s crucial 4-1 home victory over Brighton, which sends the Magpies into Monday’s clash with Leicester knowing Champions League qualification is firmly within their grasp.
With the score at 2-1 and barely a minute of normal time remaining, he broke and fired past keeper Jason Steele before racing clear once again to set up Bruno Guimaraes to score, although it was his all-round contribution which pleased Howe most.
The 45-year-old said: “I complimented him, not in terms of the goal he scored, but just his intelligence on the press for us because he is the one that has to set the chain off and he has to get it right.
“If he gets it wrong, the whole team suffers, so I thought his tactical understanding was as good as I’ve seen.”
The intensity Newcastle mustered against the Seagulls has become their trademark under Howe, and it is one of which he is justifiably proud.
He said: “You can’t promise the winning. In my first press conference here, I said I can’t promise that, but I can try to give a team that empties on the pitch, that gives everything every time we step on to it.
“That’s what I ask of the team, that’s what I ask of the players consistently. It’s easier said than done because in a long season, cup runs, naturally people will have off days, bad days, that’s just natural.
“But you can have a bad day and still give your all, and I’ve got to compliment the players on what they’ve done this year. The mindset and mentality of the group have been second to none.”