Callum Wilson will return to Newcastle United's starting line-up against Arsenal on Sunday.

Wilson has come off the substitutes’ bench in the Magpies’ last three matches, with Steve Bruce having been keen to tread cautiously after he was forced to sit out more than two months with a hamstring issue.

The England international looked back to his best as he came on in the closing stages at Anfield last weekend, with his burst of pace beyond the Liverpool backline leading to a stoppage-time effort that was controversially ruled out for handball.

Wilson has looked sharp in training this week, and when he spoke to the press this morning, Bruce was happy to confirm that the 29-year-old will start against the Gunners.

“I think the time is right (for him to start),” said the Newcastle boss. “We’ve been patient, but I felt last week against Liverpool, the last five or ten minutes when he burst through was Callum being free from it (his injury).

“I always think when you’ve got a hamstring and you rely so much on your pace, like he does, then you’re always a bit reluctant to get up to full speed. But last week, against Liverpool, I felt like I saw him back to top, top speed, which is good for everybody. Let’s hope he is 100 per cent, which we think he is.”

Bruce expects Matt Ritchie to shake off a minor calf problem to retain his place in the starting line-up on Sunday, while Fabian Schar could return to the squad after stepping up his recovery from a knee-ligament injury in the last few days.

Schar is keen to prove his fitness as he is desperate to play for Switzerland at this summer’s European Championships, and has come through a reserves run-out unscathed.

“He’s trained for the best part of eight or nine days,” said Bruce. “He’s taken part in 45 minutes of a reserves game against Crystal Palace the other day, and he’s there or thereabouts. We have to be wary that he’s been out for ten or 11 weeks, but he’s knocking on the door.”

Newcastle head into the weekend in 16th position, nine points clear of 18th-placed Fulham, who make the short trip across West London to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tomorrow teatime.

Their survival is not yet guaranteed, but a tally of eight points from the last four matches against Tottenham, Burnley, West Ham and Liverpool has transformed their position. Having looked destined for relegation after they crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Brighton at the end of March, Newcastle have clambered to the brink of safety thanks to an unbeaten April.

“We can’t take anything for granted, but we’re certainly in a better position than we were a month ago,” said Bruce. “When you looked at the fixtures that we had, and that we’ve still got coming up, then you realised that there were some difficult games.

“We’re pleased. Over the last couple of months, if you take away the Brighton result, then we’ve only lost one of our last eight games. Just at the right time, we’ve found a bit of resilience, and more importantly, as I’ve said week in, week out, we’ve had our big players in key areas fit, and that’s coincided with the upturn in results.”

Arsenal will be without a number of their big players on Sunday, partly because the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Kieran Tierney are struggling with injury and partly because Mikel Arteta will be keen to rest players with more than half-an-eye on Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg with Villarreal.

Arsenal lost the first leg 2-1 in Spain, but with Nicolas Pepe having claimed a crucial away goal from the penalty spot in the second half, Arteta will feel his side are more than capable of turning things around at the Emirates.

As a result, he could decide to rest the likes of Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith-Rowe, although Dani Ceballos is likely to start on Sunday as he is suspended for Thursday’s European game.

Newcastle (3-4-2-1): Dubravka; Fernandez, Clark, Dummett; Murphy, Shelvey, S Longstaff, Ritchie; Almiron, Saint-Maximin; Wilson.