Dwight Gayle can fire Newcastle United into the Premier League – if he keeps his focus.
That’s the verdict of captain Jamaal Lascelles ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Blackburn Rovers.
Gayle took his goal tally for the season to 13 with two strikes at Elland Road last weekend.
Newcastle’s 2-0 win over Leeds United saw the Championship-leading club stretch their lead over second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion to five points.
And Lascelles feels Gayle just needs to keep his feet on the ground over the coming weeks and months.
“He’s doing really well,” said Lascelles. “He’s very clinical with his shots. It’s my job, and that of a few of the other lads, to keep him doing that.
Ultimately, if he’s banging in goals for us, then we’re going to have a really good chance. I don’t want to get into his head too much, but he’s a good player, and needs to keep doing what he’s doing.Jamaal Lascelles
“Ultimately, if he’s banging in goals for us, then we’re going to have a really good chance. I don’t want to get into his head too much, but he’s a good player, and needs to keep doing what he’s doing.
“He works really hard. If he stays focused, we should be fine.”
Gayle was struck on a night out in Liverpool to celebrate Lascelles’s 23rd birthday the weekend before the Leeds game.
The 26-year-old, signed from Crystal Palace in the summer, suffered damage to several tooth veneers and needed dental work ahead of the game.
But Gayle was desperate to play at Elland Road.
And Newcastle fans chanted “Dwight Gayle, he scores with no teeth” as the jubilant striker left the field with Lascelles at the final whistle.
Asked about Gayle’s determination to put the incident behind him and play, defender Lascelles said: “That’s all he wants to do – play for the team, play for the shirt, play for the club and play in front of these fans.
“All 11 of us are so passionate. You might see us arguing on the pitch and giving each other a bit of grief, but it’s because we’ve all got that winning mentality.
“After, when we get into the changing room, we shake hands and have a laugh about it.
“At the end of the day, it’s about getting the three points.”
Newcastle have conceded just three goals on their travels this season.
And Lascelles says the club’s defending is a team effort which starts with Gayle up front.
“Keeping clean sheets is my job, but it’s a team performance and it starts from the front with Dwight closing down,” said Lascelles.
“The midfielders were solid (against Leeds), and, again, the back four worked really well as a unit and Darlow was unbelievable.
“They’re a big, physical side and from crosses they looked dangerous.
“I’m really pleased for the boys. We’ve just got to prepare for the next game.”
Meanwhile, Blackburn are third-bottom and United are heavily odds-on to record a 10th successive victory.
Lascelles said: “We don’t see it as nine in a row. We just see it as ‘we need to get ready for the next game’.
“We don’t look at the teams around us. We can’t affect that. Literally, we’re going to train as we normally do. We’re very professional.
“We look forward training. By game day, we’ve got our game heads on. Everyone’s raring to go.”