By Harry Sykes

Former Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway is convinced Dwight Gayle is the player to spearhead Newcastle’s promotion challenge.

The Magpies signed the Crystal Palace forward early last month on a five-year deal for around £10million in their first batch of summer signings.

Gayle scored 26 goals in 74 appearances during his three seasons at Palace, but a disappointing second half of the 2015-16 campaign saw the club make an alarming drop down the table and resulted in the striker’s expected departure.

Gayle, who joined Palace in 2013 from Peterborough for a fee of £6million, was signed by Holloway when he was in charge at Selhurst Park.

Some pundits, including another former Palace manager Neil Warnock, are not convinced about Gayle.

But Holloway, who also managed Blackpool and QPR in the Championship is a big admirer of the striker and believes he can be a key figure for Rafael Benitez this season.

“I signed him for Palace,” Holloway told Sky Sports News, as quoted by the Chronicle. “For me, he never really got a run in the team. When he does, he scores goals. I think this is a massive move for him.

“Can he handle the massive expectation of being almost the main man at Newcastle? I am excited for him. I think he will carry it and he will do really well.”

In other Newcastle news, Benitez has been hit by a high profile snub after his offer was rejected.