EDDIE HOWE is confident Callum Wilson will hit the ground running next weekend – and expects the Newcastle United striker to have benefited massively from having an injury-free pre-season under his belt.

Wilson missed a huge chunk of last season after suffering hamstring and achilles injuries during December’s draw with Manchester United.

The England international has suffered from a number of injury issues during his time on Tyneside, but he has not had any problems this summer and has been able to play throughout the pre-season programme.

He proved his wellbeing as he slotted home the opening goal of today’s 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao, and Howe expects him to be in tip-tip shape when Newcastle kick off their Premier League campaign at home to Nottingham Forest next weekend.

The Newcastle head coach said: “It’s been a massively important period for Callum. I think the few games at the back end of last season did him the world of good, but this body of work will hopefully give him a great platform to be robust and withstand the rigours of Premier League football.

“Hopefully, it will also give him the sharpness that he needs to be able to score goals at the very highest level. He took his goal very well today, and that will have done him the world of good.”

At the other end of the pitch, Sven Botman impressed against Bilbao, and Howe is confident the summer signing from Lille will be able to handle the demands of life in the English top-flight.

He said: “He’s done very well during pre-season. I’d say today was a snapshot of how he’s been – very composed on the ball, an excellent distributor, short and long. I thought he defended very well.

“He was good aerially and good defending balls in behind. I thought it was a very composed display. He’s showing the characteristics of what he’ll bring to the defence.

“Is he ready? Of course he is. But there’s competition for places, and that’s now probably my biggest dilemma from the two games – trying to pick one XI.”