By support

22nd Oct, 2016 | 12:11pm

Benitez delivers verdict on Newcastle fan favourite, claims he can improve

By Will Butcher

Rafa Benitez has declared himself delighted by Dwight Gayle’s start to life at St. James’ Park, but believes there is more to come from the Newcastle forward.

The former Crystal Palace forward has started life on Tyneside in explosive form, scoring 11 goals in 12 league and cup encounters for the Toon.

However, Benitez told the Shields Gazette that there is more to come from Newcastle’s number nine despite scoring a brace in his side’s midweek 3-1 win against Barnsley.

“From the first days in training,” Benitez told the Shields Gazette. “You could see that he was clever, good movement, stronger than he seems.

“I think he can improve. He understands what we do, so when we make tactical adjustments, he knows what to do.”

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

Gayle has already adhered himself to the Toon faithful with his goals, most notably scoring a hat-trick in Newcastle’s last-minute 4-3 win against title challengers Norwich.

The former Peterborough and Daghenham & Redbridge forward is expected to lead the Newcastle attack once again, as Benitez’s side face Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich.

A win against the East Anglia outfit could see Newcastle go four points clear at the top of the Championship, if Norwich drop points against Preston at Carrow Road.

With four goals in two games, fans will be hoping Gayle can continue his hot streak that is currently keeping Serbia international Aleksander Mitrovic on the substitute’s bench.

In other Newcastle news, Benitez has given an injury update on another of Gayle’s centre-forward rivals.