NEWCASTLE United forward Callum Wilson is hopeful of putting last season’s injury hit campaign behind him as Eddie Howe lauds the striker’s current physical condition after an important pre-season programme.

Wilson, 30, only made 18 appearances in all competitions for the Magpies last term after suffering from an achilles and hamstring injury but still managed to get on the scoresheet eight times and finish as the club’s top scorer for the campaign.

The former Bournemouth frontman has been a regular feature in pre-season and capped off the summer months with a goal in their 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend.

Wilson’s injury issues have been a constant feature of his career but the hope is that the England international can lead the line for the club on a more regular basis having ended last season with a brace on the final game of the season against Burnley.

“I am looking forward to the league starting” said Wilson. “I ended it positively after missing a bulk of it last year. For me, the season finished at the wrong time so I’ve had to stay physically and mentally in a good place to make sure that when the start of the season comes around, you’re ready.

“Hopefully this time next week, I’ll be standing back here again talking about banging in a few goals.”

Newcastle’s season kicks off against Nottingham Forest this weekend in the hopes that the club can build on their 11th place finish last season in the Premier League. The bookmakers are tipping the club to be pushing for a Europa League spot.

The club have enhanced their options within the squad with the additions of defender Sven Botman and goalkeeper Nick Pope while Matt Targett’s loan from Aston Villa last season was turned into a permanent move. However, they have been hit by recent injuries to defender Kell Watts, who has been part of the first-team in pre-season and Jonjo Shelvey, who is awaiting scan results to discover the extent of the damage to his hamstring injury.

Wilson continued: “I think we are in a good place. We probably got one or two injuries throughout pre-season which unfortunately, for those guys, is disappointing but the bulk of the squad is in good shape. We’ve worked hard, we’ve put in the work behind the scenes, the staff here have got the players into a good working condition.”

Eddie Howe, who previously worked with Wilson at Bournemouth, is set to make the 30-year-old his number one frontman for this season. However, Newcastle are pushing to sign attacking players in the transfer market before the window closes in just under a month’s time.

A winger or attacking midfielder has been the main point of focus with the club currently locked in talks with Leicester City over a potential deal for James Maddison having just lodged a second bid for the 25-year-old.

Regarding Wilson, Howe acknowledges just how important the pre-season programme has been for him given his injury record in the past. “It’s been a massively important period for Callum” said Howe after their friendly win over Bilbao.

“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.”

Nottingham Forest open their Premier League campaign following last season’s promotion with 12 new players to choose from including former Newcastle United target Jesse Lingard who has signed a one-year deal at the City Ground.