A SATISFIED Steve Bruce says Callum Wilson’s performances in the first seven games of the season highlight the value of buying players with proven Premier League quality.

Wilson took his goalscoring return to six goals from seven league matches yesterday as his second-half brace helped secure the 2-1 win over Everton that briefly lifted Newcastle into the top half of the table before Arsenal’s tea-time win at Manchester United dropped them back to 11th.

The 28-year-old became Newcastle’s flagship summer signing when he completed a £20m switch from Bournemouth, with his capture representing a marked departure from Mike Ashley’s previous policy of prioritising the purchase of unproven youngsters from abroad.

Bruce also recruited Jamal Lewis, Ryan Fraser and Jeff Hendrick during the close season – all players with previous experience of playing in the Premier League – and the Magpies manager feels it is no coincidence that his summer signings have been able to hit the ground running.

“That was conversation I had with my chief exec,” said Bruce. “‘Can we find somebody that we know is a stick on?’ With Callum, he’s proved that over the last four or five years. He’s proven in the Premier League.

“Any player that you take from abroad, it’s always a bit of a gamble. If you can get a player who has played in the Premier League over the past four or five years and has a pedigree with it, then that’s great.

“The same is true of Ryan Fraser – he came on and produced an assist straight away. It certainly helps when you can buy that proven quality, and to be fair, the board understood and accepted it. That’s why we did what we did.”

Wilson has enjoyed a hugely successful start to his Newcastle career, and extended his fine scoring record yesterday afternoon when he opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

It was his second goal that really impressed Bruce though, with the striker bursting into the six-yard box to convert Fraser’s cross. It was a classic poacher’s strike, with Wilson bundling the ball home from close to the goalline.

“The second goal shows the difference,” said Bruce. “It’s maybe the second or third goal that he’s scored for us from inside the six-yard box. He’s there, and that’s the difference. He’s got that instinct where he wants to score a goal.

“He was upset that I took him off with five minutes to go, but he’s crucial to us because he’s given us that cutting edge which a goalscorer has. He’s got six already, which matches our top scorer from the whole of last year. You can imagine the kind of lift it’s given to everybody.”

Newcastle got back to winning ways after their previous home game had resulted in a 4-1 defeat to Manchester United, and having bemoaned the way in which his side became too open in the closing stages against the Reds, Bruce was delighted with the balance of his team’s play against Everton.

The Magpies were watertight in defence, only conceding a goal to Dominic Calvert-Lewin in stoppage time, but carried much more of an attacking threat than had been the case in the previous weekend’s 1-1 draw at Wolves.

“I was pleased overall, and especially tactically against an Everton team with (Carlo) Ancelotti in charge,” said Bruce. “The players got it spot on. We defended really well, and had a threat the other way too.

“We knew we had to be tactically right. You’re playing against a team who were top of the league and have one of the best coaches in the world. We knew we had to stay in it, but we knew we’d have a threat with our two wing-backs and the pace we have in and around the pitch.

“Today, it worked very well, and I’m delighted with the return. We’ve had some tough games of late, but it’s been a decent, steady return from a difficult start to the season.”

The one negative was the enforced departure of Allan Saint-Maximin, who hobbled off in the 74th minute after sustaining a series of heavy knocks.

The Frenchman looked to be in considerable discomfort as he left the field, but Bruce is confident he will have recovered sufficiently to be available for Friday night’s trip to St Mary’s to take on a Southampton side that scored four goals at Aston Villa yesterday afternoon.

“Allan’s taken a knock, but we expect him to be okay,” he said. “Thankfully, it’s just a dead leg from a kick, so we expect him to make a recovery.”