Rafa Benitez delivers selection verdict after striker setback
By Matt Farr
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has confirmed that striker Dwight Gayle will be out for the foreseeable future.
Gayle was forced-off in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Brentford with a hamstring injury, and is likely to miss the next few games.
The 26-year-old has been in sensational form in front of goal for Newcastle this season, netting 20 goals from 24 appearances in all competitions, helping the Magpies maintain their pursuit of the Championship title.
The victory saw them take full advantage of Brighton’s slip-up against Preston to return to the top of the table, but Benitez will now need to look elsewhere for goals after losing Gayle to injury.
He told the Newcastle Chronicle: “It is just a pity because the way he [Gayle] was playing and in form, he was on fire. It is a pity we will now lose him for some games and see where we are.”
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33-year-old Daryl Murphy was called upon to replace Gayle against Brentford, and after scoring the winner for Newcastle, Benitez insisted that the Republic of Ireland international was the man for the job.
“For somebody who has so much experience at 33 in this division, he was always a very good example for the others. He was very professional.
“Everybody praised him last week because of the way he scored the goal and the way he worked. We watch him in training every day and his attitude has been perfect. He has been training really well.
“I am really pleased for him and the team. When you have such a professional and somebody who has possibilities to score, you are even happier for him.”
Murphy has found first-team opportunities at a premium since arriving from Ipswich in the summer, but could get his chance to impress following the injuries to Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
He has made just nine first-team appearances this season, including four Championship starts, scoring three goals.
However, he was a leading figure at Ipswich prior to his move to St. James’ Park, and with 67 goals from 225 appearances for the club, is no stranger to shouldering the goalscoring responsibilities.
In other Newcastle news, fans were very critical of this Magpies player during the win over Brentford.