By Matt Farr
Sky Sports pundit David Prutton believes the absence of Dwight Gayle could cost Newcastle when they face Brighton on Tuesday.
The two Championship heavyweights are set to go head-to-head at the Amex Stadium with just one point between them at the top of the table, but Prutton thinks Brighton will have the edge in a close-fought encounter.
Prutton returned to Sky Sports to name his predictions ahead of the midweek Championship games, and insisted that Newcastle could lose out without star goalscorer Gayle in their team.
He said: “Chris Hughton’s side go into Tuesday’s match in ridiculously good form and will be full of confidence.
“Newcastle piled on the pressure on Bristol City in the second half and it was an absolute onslaught. They should have won that game.
“It’s all set to be a really close match at the Amex but I think Brighton have the edge. Their attacking players have been in the goals recently while Newcastle will be missing Dwight Gayle.
“You worry about Newcastle when he’s not in the team.”
Gayle, 26, missed Newcastle’s 2-2 draw with Bristol City on Saturday with a hamstring injury, and will play no part in the Brighton fixture.
Newcastle have had to do without him for the most part of the new year, and have been missing the impact of their 20-goal man.
The former Crystal Palace hitman was initially ruled out ahead of the FA Cup clash with Birmingham on January 18, but made his comeback for the first-team in a brief cameo appearance against Norwich on February 14.
However, his return to action was short-lived, as he suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury against Aston Villa just six days later.
The prize for a victory on Tuesday for both sides will be a place at the top of the Championship. For Brighton, it will be an opportunity to go four points clear, while for Newcastle it will a chance to make amends for the points dropped at Bristol City.
In other Newcastle news, Brighton man Sam Baldock has issued a warning to Newcastle ahead of Tuesday’s clash.