By Noel Whelan

28th Aug, 2020 | 8:00pm

'Massive' - Exclusive: Whelan reacts to devastating Newcastle update

Noel Whelan insists losing Dwight Gayle to injury is a “massive blow” for Newcastle United ahead of the new Premier League season.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Leeds and Coventry striker admits suffering a setback in pre-season is every player’s “worst nightmare”.

Gayle, who finished last season as Steve Bruce’s first-choice striker, limped off with an injury after playing just 18 minutes in the Magpies warm-up clash with Crewe Alexandra.

While there has been no official update on his status, Football Insider has revealed that the centre-forward is expected to be out of action for three months and is unlikely to feature before December.

Whelan admits the setback is a bitter pill for both Bruce and the player to swallow after the hitman’s fine form towards the end of last season.

Whelan told Football Insider: “A player that really started to motor at the back end of last season, got some really important goals and put in some very good performances.

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“He’s bided his time, he has been tipped to go out on loan, Steve Bruce has kept him there at the club. They knew they needed firepower, they knew they needed options and he’s an option that was used and used very, very well. 

“He repaid the faith to Steve Bruce. This ankle injury he’s picked up is a massive blow because it’s your worst nightmare as a football player to be getting injured in pre-season, so close to the start of the new Premier League campaign.”

“Steve Bruce might be scratching his head, wondering what’s going on at the club to have that many injuries through last season and before they even get going.”

Gayle netted four goals in Newcastle’s final eight games of the 2019/20 campaign, having failed to hit the back of the net before the Premier League lockdown.

He has a total of 33 goals in 93 appearances for the Magpies, although the majority of his strikes came during the club’s season in the Championship.

In other Newcastle United news, Steve Bruce has pulled the plug on a senior star’s exit from St James’ Park.