By Matt Farr

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has admitted that Dwight Gayle could be back in contention to face Brighton next week.

The two Championship heavyweights are set to go head-to-head on Tuesday, in a crucial top-of-the-table encounter, and Newcastle could be boosted by the return of their premier goalscorer.

Gayle, 26, has been suffering from a hamstring problem, which has kept him out of seven of their last nine matches in all competitions.

It had earlier been claimed that Gayle was set to be sidelined for a month, but Benitez admitted to the Chronicle following the 2-2 draw with Bristol City on Saturday that he could be fit to face Brighton; which will delight the Newcastle fans.

However, the Newcastle chief admitted that he would rely on the player’s own judgement as to whether he’s ready or not.

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He said: “I watched him on Saturday morning, he was training, so we will see how he feels.

“He will have a chance against Brighton. It more or less depends on him, how he feels.”

Gayle has been a huge asset to Newcastle’s Championship title bid this season, netting 20 goals from 26 appearances this season.

His prolific goalscoring touch was greatly missed during the stalemate with Bristol City on Saturday, but the Magpies showed strong resilience to overturn a two-goal deficit and take away a point.

The draw did though, sacrifice Newcastle’s place at the top of the Championship, with rivals Brighton taking full advantage with a 3-0 win over Reading.

In other Newcastle news, fans on Twitter slated Jack Colback’s midfield display for Newcastle in the Bristol City draw.

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