Newcastle United briefing: Dwight Gayle injury latest, building for the future

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Brighton and Hove Albion are the new favourites to win the Championship title.

Second-placed Newcastle United trail Chris Hughton's league leaders by two points after Saturday's disappointing 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

Rafa Benitez's side, however, remain 10 points ahead of third-placed Huddersfield Town, also beaten at the weekend.

But the result at Hillsborough was compounded by the latest hamstring injury suffered by Dwight Gayle, the club's leading scorer.

Here is your daily briefing:

Hamstrung

Dwight Gayle

Dwight Gayle

Gayle is today being assessed by United's medical team.

The striker – who returned from a previous hamstring problem last month – limped off the pitch with 29 minutes gone at Hillsborough.

Gayle had felt his other hamstring, and his reaction told its own story.

We might not see him again this season.

Jamaal Lascelles

Jamaal Lascelles

Asked if the 27-year-old would miss the rest of the campaign, Benitez said: “It’s too early (to say). It could be, but it’s too early."

Newcastle could issue an update on Gayle today.

Benitez is looking for "fresh legs" for the club's five remaining games.

Meanwhile, Gayle has been pipped to the EFL's top award by Brighton and Hove Albion's Anthony Knockaert.

Ayoze Perez and Barry Bannan

Ayoze Perez and Barry Bannan

Knockaert was last night named the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Season.

"The award means a lot to me, and I am happy that I have achieved an award like this in my career," said the winger, who was a target for Benitez last summer.

"I will keep on working hard for the rest of the season and keep on doing what I have been doing.”

Brainless

Benitez was unhappy with the mistakes that littered Newcastle's performance against Wednesday.

Put simply, United's manager felt his players lost their heads.

Jordan Rhodes and Daryl Murphy

Jordan Rhodes and Daryl Murphy

Newcastle managed to get to the break without conceding a goal, but it seemed only a matter of time before Carlos Carvalhal's side would break the deadlock.

The home side's breakthrough came from a needlessly-conceded free-kick, and Tom Lees and Steven Fletcher beat their men too easily for their goals.

Benitez will go through the game with his players before starting preparations for the Good Friday home game against Leeds United.

“You must analyse the two or three things that you can improve,” he said.

“You can do nothing about the things you cannot improve, but what you can improve you must, and as soon as possible.

“As soon as possible will be the training session on Monday. We must prepare in the training sessions to do good things and make sure we do these things in the games too.”

Benitez also revealed what he told his players after the game.

Building for the future

There was some significant news today from the Newcastle United Foundation.

The charity, which works with 50,000 young people in the region every year, has revealed plans today for a new sporting and education hub for the city.

Murray House, a short walk from St James's Park, is to be converted into a community facility.

The building was originally built in the 1930s to provide leisure and training opportunities for those made unemployed by the decline of shipbuilding. It was rebuilt in the 1970s and continued to be used as a community centre.

And the new multi-million pound development will include a sports hall, football pitch and classrooms as well as meeting space for the wider community.

Former United striker Shola Ameobi was a regular at drop-in sessions at Murray House when he was growing up in the city.

"Murray House was a big part of my life growing up," said Ameobi. "It was a big part of our community. We didn’t have anything like Newcastle United Foundation in the city back then. I wish we had.

"When you start out with very little, it can be difficult to believe that you can achieve your dreams, but the Foundation, through the power of football, is helping thousands of people. I am incredibly excited about Murray House's future in their hands."

Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley added: "Murray House represents the next vital step in the exciting journey of our Foundation, who have already achieved so much."

Miss the Cutt?

Leeds are sweating on the fitness of former Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt ahead of their visit to St James's Park.

Bridcutt missed Saturday's win over Preston North End with an Achilles problem.

Leeds manager Garry Monk said: “Liam picked up a knock on his Achilles. I don’t think it’s serious and it’s soreness more than anything, not a complete injury. But at this stage you need players who can give 100% and push themselves physically, and Liam wasn’t able to do that.”

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Shola Amoebi, second right, at Murray House

Shola Amoebi, second right, at Murray House