By Danny Wright

Middlesbrough are lining up a bid for Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle if they fail in their pursuit of Nottingham Forest’s Britt Assombalonga, according to a report.

The Sun claims that Garry Monk could turn his sights on the key Magpies man as he looks for a new forward to spearhead their upcoming Championship promotion campaign.

It is understood that Newcastle’s local rivals Boro will have a fight on their hands to land Assombalonga from Burnley, after the Mirror claimed that the Clarets are plotting a second bid for the striker after having their opening offer of £8million rejected.

Gayle only arrived at St. James’ Park from Crystal Palace last summer, but proved to be a main man as the Magpies sought promotion back to the Premier League.

He scored 23 goals in 32 league appearances, but the second half of his campaign was riddled with a recurring hamstring injury, which saw him net just three times between the end of January and the end of the season.

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Benitez is yet to add a striker to his squad ahead of the upcoming camapign but as it stands he only has Gayle, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Daryl Murphy.

Football Insider Verdict

Although Gayle is very injury-prone and is not as lethal in the top-flight as he is in the Championship, he’s definitely worth keeping around at St. James’ Park. The 26-year-old could prove to be a key impact player ahead of next season and instead of flogging him to a north-east rival, Benitez should simply keep him around and cash in on Mitrovic and Murphy instead. Neither of those pair did a substantial amount to help out in Newcastle’s title-winning campaign last time out, so nothing suggests they are worth keeping. The Toon Army should hope that Boro close a deal for Assombalonga first.

In other Newcastle news, this midfielder has agreed a contract with the Magpies.

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