Callum Wilson believes he merits his place in the England squad and says he is not overawed by training alongside some of the country’s most recognisable players.
Wilson earned his first call-up to Gareth Southgate’s squad for Thursday’s friendly with the United States and the UEFA Nations League clash with Croatia on Sunday after a blistering start to the 2018-19 season.
The 26-year-old has had a direct hand in more Premier League goals this season – scoring six goals and providing four assists – than England captain Harry Kane, PFA Player of the Year Mohamed Salah and Arsenal’s record-signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“When I walked in [to England training] I felt like I should be here,” said Wilson.
England vs USA
November 15, 2018, 7:00pm
“I felt like my performances this season have justified my selection.
“I play against different players from the squad week-in, week-out, so you get to see them and you have that mutual respect there. But I always felt comfortable coming here.”
Wilson has suffered two cruciate knee ligament injuries since 2015 but the Bournemouth striker insists the setbacks have fed his desire to reach the very top of the game.
“It’s like anything in life really. If it’s worth fighting for then you are going to go have to go through some tough times to get there,” he said.
England vs Croatia
November 18, 2018, 1:00pm
“I’ve had a few setbacks but they have just made me stronger really.
“It makes you appreciate things more so when you get here now you appreciate it a lot more because of what you have done in the past.”
Wilson’s club manager Eddie Howe last week praised the ‘mental fortitude’ Wilson has shown to come back from injury and elevate his game to another level.
But the striker credits Howe with helping him become a more complete footballer.
“He is a fantastic manager,” Wilson said. “He has given me a fantastic opportunity and a platform.
“He bought me when they were in the Championship and had a vision to get into the Premier League within a few years and that was something I wanted to do as well, being ambitious.
“That’s what he has done. He has also improved me as a player, tactically as well as technically.”
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