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First team

FPL star Cal keeps delivering in real world

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

If Callum Wilson were to bottle and market his belief and confidence, both would be best sellers.

Four years ago this weekend, Wilson’s career was in the balance after he had sustained the first of two serious knee injuries.

At the time, he was joint leading marksman in the Premier League having hit five goals in the first six games of the Cherries’ debut campaign in the top flight.

He spent almost seven months on the sidelines before a cruel twist of fate saw him suffer a similar injury to the other knee in February 2017.

In total, Wilson missed 52 games of the club’s first three seasons in the Premier League. And despite the advancements in modern medicine, the injuries may have done for a lesser man.

An infectious character both on and off the pitch, Wilson’s strength, searing pace and ruthless finishing make him a formidable opponent.

As a team-mate, his hunger for goals, indefatigable work-rate and desire to fight for the cause make him someone you want alongside you in the trenches.

Despite drawing a blank in his first three Premier League games this season and also failing to score in the Carabao Cup against Forest Green, boss Eddie Howe never doubted Wilson would start to add goals to his tireless performances.

And as he prepares to make his 98th Premier League appearance, Wilson will attempt to score for a fourth game in succession for the first time in the top flight.

Standing between him and the personal milestone are West Ham, the team Wilson has scored six times against, including a maiden Premier League hat-trick in a 4-3 win at Upton Park in August 2015.

Asked by afcb.co.uk whether goal droughts worried him, Wilson’s reply was as emphatic as his stunning strike in a 2-0 home win against the Hammers last season: “No!

“I always believe in myself. I just trust the process of getting in the right positions and keep doing the things that get you goals.

“I don’t focus on the outcome, I focus on what’s going to get you the outcome and, ultimately, that’s working hard on the training field so you’re clinical when you get your chances.

“I have the self-belief that it will turn and it always does. Every striker goes through those periods. In my first season in the Premier League, I didn’t score for the first two games.

“Then, all of sudden, I had five in six games and everyone was talking about England. It just goes to show how quickly things can turn in football.

“I enjoy it when people try to write me off and thrive on being doubted. It just spurs me on to prove them wrong.

“I’m targeting shooting up the Premier League scoring charts and was thinking that before I’d even scored this season. You have to have that hunger all the time.

“First and foremost, the most important thing is helping the team. As a striker, your job is to score goals and, if you’re not doing that, what else are you bringing to the team?

“When I’m not scoring, I make sure I work hard, press well and things like that. I’m never worried if I’m not scoring. You just need to back your ability and will get there in the end.”

Despite his lengthy injury absences, Wilson is the Cherries’ second highest goalscorer in the Premier League with 37, just six behind Joshua King.

Since hitting the comeback trail for the second time in October 2017, Wilson has featured in 64 of the Cherries’ 73 games in the top flight, with goals this season against Leicester, Everton (two) and Southampton taking his tally to 26 during that period.

Wilson is hoping to maintain his hot streak against the Hammers at Vitality Stadium and said: “My first Premier League goal was against West Ham and that will always live close with me. I seem to thrive against them and look forward to playing them.

“They are coming here when I’m in a good bit of form. I’ve never scored in four Premier League games on the bounce so that is 100 per cent one of my targets. I like to set myself targets to stimulate me, keep me hungry and wanting more.”

West Ham have had a similar start to the Cherries, taking ten points from their past four games after picking up one from their first two. They also exited the Carabao Cup at the hands of League One opposition in midweek.

Wilson added: “If they are anything like us then we haven’t been playing well. We’ve been winning games, getting positive results and are where we are in the league but it’s early days in terms of positions.

“We’ve not played anywhere near where we can, both individually and collectively, and have a lot more to give.

“We’ve both probably got a lot more to give and, hopefully, we just give more than they do.”

Wilson’s impressive form has made him a popular choice among Fantasy Premier League managers. He is the ninth highest scoring player in the game with 40 points and has delivered attacking returns in all six gameweeks.

Asked whether he had a team in the competition, Wilson said: “Yes and I’m in a few leagues with my friends and one here with the lads.

“I’ve had myself in from the start and haven’t hit a blank yet. I hear people saying I’m doing well or not doing well enough.

“It’s all about ticking over. The season is a marathon not a sprint and you just need to keep picking up points and you’ll be up there at the end of the season.”

Asked who was top dog in the players’ league and whether he named himself as captain, Wilson said: “I was top until last week – I had a bad week and dropped to sixth.

“I haven’t captained myself this season. Last season, I was scoring and on fire but didn’t have myself in my team. I put myself in, captained myself and then stopped scoring so I’m not captaining myself at all this season!”

"I put myself in, captained myself and then stopped scoring so I’m not captaining myself at all this season!”

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