Is confidence now the key for Callum Wilson?
The expression painted across Callum Wilson’s face said it all. It was the moment he had dreamed about during his painstaking rehabilitation from a serious knee injury. Nearly a year to the day since he last scored a Premier League goal, he was on the scoresheet once again courtesy of an audacious flick that was worthy of winning any game of football.
The fact that it secured AFC Bournemouth their first victory of the season made his champagne moment even sweeter, as it helped see off West Bromwich Albion at the Vitality Stadium.
Wilson’s story has been well documented. He had started last season in blistering fashion, netting five goals in seven appearances including a hat-trick against West Ham United. Former England manager Roy Hodgson admitted Wilson had been on the verge of a call-up to the senior squad before he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee away to Stoke City last September.
The sickening injury nearly ended his season – Wilson only returned for the final few matches when the Cherries’ survival had been all but guaranteed – and his wait to add to his Premier League tally lasted 12 months.
Naturally, the outpouring of emotion upon scoring his comeback goal in front of the Bournemouth supporters was palpable and was shared by Wilson’s team-mates, who ran from all corners of the pitch to embrace and celebrate with him. The Cherries’ togetherness has long been quoted as a key reason behind their astonishing climb from the depths of League Two to the Premier League and this was another example of their unbreakable team spirit.
Perhaps not picked up by the television cameras however, was a brief moment of reflection in which Wilson appeared to realise the enormity of his goal. Recovering from a serious injury can be a lonely time for a footballer, but netting the winner had made those months of toil away from the spotlight worthwhile. Although Wilson told the club’s official website after the West Brom match that he had never doubted himself, there was surely a huge surge of relief when he saw his flick from Adam Smith’s cross evade Baggies keeper Ben Foster and nestle in the bottom corner.
One man who will be particularly delighted is Eddie Howe. Goals are a precious commodity in the Premier League and the Bournemouth manager knows that a fit and firing Wilson; who joined from Coventry City in the summer of 2014 for around £3 million, strengthens his attacking weaponry. The Cherries have netted just twice in their opening four matches, a ratio they will need to improve upon if they are to avoid relegation for a second successive campaign.
Two seasons ago, Wilson was the spearhead of the side as Bournemouth memorably lifted the Championship title. Not only did he score 20 important goals, but he created havoc in the opposition defence and won numerous penalties with his trickery. On his day, he was often unplayable.
With the likes of Joshua King, Benik Afobe and Lewis Grabban all vying for a place in the starting XI, Howe has plenty of attacking options at his disposal. Nevertheless, the fact that Wilson has lined up in each of the Cherries’ Premier League matches this season suggests he is the first choice. Bearing that in mind, the significance of the 24-year-old’s strike against West Brom – and the three points it earned for the team – cannot be overstated.
Goals are the currency in which all strikers deal and Wilson’s confidence will have been greatly enhanced by his. Nobody would be surprised if it was the first of many.
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