Newcastle United dared to dream but fell short — and Howe vows Champions League lessons will be learned

Newcastle United dared to dream but fell short — and Howe vows Champions League lessons will be learned
Newcastle United dared to dream but fell short — and Howe vows Champions League lessons will be learned

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Callum Wilson promises Newcastle United ‘blood, sweat and tears’ for AC Milan Champions League clash

NEWCASTLE: Callum Wilson wants his Newcastle United teammates to leave their “blood, sweat and tears” on the park as they bid to make the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time in their history.

Only three points in the final Group F encounter will put the Magpies in the last 16 mix. Defeat will see them dumped out of Europe altogether, a draw would guarantee Europa League football for the back end of the season, but a win could see them sneak second, provided Paris Saint-Germain do not win at Borussia Dortmund.

Despite making the last 32 group stages when the competition format differed back in 2003/2004, Newcastle have never been in a Champions League knockout round. And striker Wilson, recently returned from a hamstring problem, is determined the Magpies will not leave any stone unturned in the pursuit of progress.

“We will leave blood, sweat and tears out there,” claimed Wilson, as Newcastle look to better last season’s Champions League semifinalists, Milan.

“It’s what we do every time we step over the white line and for us a football club it’s about having no regrets. We have an opportunity in front of us and all we can do is focus on Milan.

“Just leave everything on the football field, that’s all we can do. All we can do is beat the team that’s in front of us, so that’s what we’ll be trying to do and hopefully things go right elsewhere.”

Newcastle’s second-highest scorer this season, Wilson has been a miss since dropping out of the side before the international break. The 31-year-old England international had not kicked a ball since Nov. 7, when he was withdrawn at halftime with the issue on his first Champions League start at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park.

Due to the club’s injury crisis, which could see Anthony Gordon and Martin Dubravka miss out on Wednesday, Wilson could well be required to start.

“I’ve worked hard to get fit and feel in a good place,” said seven-goal Wilson. “If called upon, I’m 100 percent ready.

“The kind of person that I am, I’m always hungry anyway and try to strive to be the best I can be, but when games of this ilk come around, they don’t come around often, really. And to be able to try to help the team get to where they need to get to, you do everything you can to try to help them.

“Dortmund away was my first start. For me walking across the pitch and standing hearing the music playing was a special moment inside. You look up and you could have looked back at times in my career where I had double ACL injuries and might have thought this will never happen. You try and grasp the opportunity with both hands.”

Despite his seven Premier League strikes this campaign, Wilson is yet to break his Champions League duck. It would be the icing on the cake for the frontman, having built his way right up from non-league football with Kettering Town and Tamworth, through Coventry, Bournemouth to the England squad, then Europe’s premier club competition with Newcastle.

“It would be an amazing moment,” he said of scoring his first goal in the competition.

“It’s up there. In terms of club football, definitely. You always dream about this as a kid and getting the opportunity to qualify, it would be up there, yeah.

“I personally believe the goal hasn’t come yet because it’s waiting for a special moment.”

Having Wilson in and around the squad is a big boost for head coach Eddie Howe, who has been down to the bare bones, of late.

The unavailability of Sandro Tonali, Harvey Barnes, Nick Pope, Sven Botman, Dan Burn and others has severely depleted the options available to Howe. And as a result, he has been forced into picking the same 10 outfield players in the last four games.

That fatigue has seen them warm up for Milan with two uncharacteristic 3-0 and 4-1 defeats at Everton and Tottenham Hotspur.

“It’s been well documented. We’ve tried to stay away from that and just focus on playing. We’ve tried to keep our minds free,” said Howe.

“Our last two performances haven’t been us at our best. The last two games have happened for different reasons. I don’t doubt the character of the players we’ve got. The spirit is there and the intention is there to do well away from home. But that can wait. We have to focus on Milan.”

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