Howe, who took Wilson to former club Bournemouth during his second spell in charge on the south coast, inherited the £20million striker when he replaced Steve Bruce at Newcastle last month and has seen him score in the last two games, the second of them a crucial 1-0 win over Burnley which ended the Magpies’ Premier League drought.
The pair spent six, largely successful, years together with the Cherries before both left within a matter of weeks in the wake of relegation and, having been reunited on Tyneside, the 44-year-old has seen growth in the frontman during the intervening period.
Howe said: “He seems very, very stable mentally, very focused. I think his leadership qualities have definitely improved. He’s a big character in the group.
“He always had a very, very good outlook on life and football when I worked with him previously at Bournemouth, a really positive guy. He always believed he would score and contribute for the team.
“But I guess what I’m saying is I think his leadership now, he is looking at other people and his surroundings and trying to boost other people rather than purely focusing on himself, so I’m really pleased with him.
“He’s giving a lot to the club. He’s taken that burden of the number nine and it’s not an easy thing to do, but he’s made it his own and full credit to him for that.”
Wilson has contributed six of Newcastle’s 17 league goals to date this season, none of them more important than his nerveless strike against the Clarets which secured a first win of the campaign at the 15th time of asking.
The final whistle at St James’ Park sparked wild celebrations, and while there is a long and difficult road still to travel, they simply served to increase Howe’s hunger.
He said: “It was a really uplifting experience because it was the first time we’ve been able to share that winning feeling together, and to look at the stands, see them full and everyone supportive in their appreciation of what the players had just delivered was an amazing moment.
“I hope it’s the first of many to come. I’m very thankful for what the supporters have given me since I’ve been at the club – it’s only a short period of time, but they’ve been absolutely amazing with me – and of course I want to give them more.”