Wood ‘hugely important’ as Kiwi striker is set to return to Newcastle starting line-up

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All Whites striker Chris Wood could be set to return to Newcastle United’s starting line-up for the Toons’ festive fixtures after lingering doubts about the fitness of forwards Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak.

Wood (31) shook off any doubts about his own fitness with a hard-working performance in Newcastle United’s 2-1 friendly win against Spanish side Rayo Vallecano.

The Kiwi found the net in the first half but his effort was ruled offside and he later made amends, smashing home a goal from the penalty spot.

In United’s previous friendly, Wood had left the pitch with back pains, sparking concerns that he might join the list of injured forwards at the club.

Wilson did not feature in the friendly against Rayo Vallecano after re-joining his club from Qatar where he was part of England’s FIFA World Cup squad.

Manager Eddie Howe says £60million striker Isak is still not ready to return from a thigh injury suffered in September.

Asked about striker options for the holiday fixtures, Howe told reporters: “Chris has been hugely important.”

On Tuesday, United play Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup.

In the English Premier League, Newcastle United play Leicester (away) on Tuesday December 27 and meet Leeds United (home) on New Year’s Eve.

Wood scores in weekend friendly

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