Rafa Benitez gives update on Dwight Gayle’s fitness ahead of Newcastle’s home game against Cardiff

Dwight Gayle
Dwight Gayle

Rafa Benitez will make an 11th-hour decision on Dwight Gayle’s fitness for Newcastle United’s home game against Cardiff City.

The club’s leading scorer missed last weekend’s 2-1 win over Preston North End with a hamstring problem.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, handed a rare Championship start in his absence, netted both of goals for the league leaders at Deepdale.

Gayle – who attended the Newcastle United Foundation’s awards dinner on Tuesday night with his team-mates – has been training this week ahead of 21st-placed Cardiff’s visit to St James’s Park.

But United manager Benitez will NOT take any risks with the striker ahead of a two-week international break.

Asked if Gayle would be available to face Cardiff, Benitez said: “He was training, but still we have to be a little bit cautious with him.

“We will see in the next few days. We have some time, and it depends how he feels. At the moment he is training and improving, but it depends how he feels.”

Fit-again pair Achraf Lazaar and Jesus Gamez returned to Benitez’s squad for the Preston game.

And Massadio Haidara – who is close to full fitness after recovering from a long-term knee injury – isn’t far behind them.

“Lazaar, Gamez and Haidara were training,” said Benitez. “It’s good. It’s more competition and more options for the next game. We have the international break after, and we will see how many players go and how many players are available.

“It’s always important to have all the players available.”

Benitez took a number of players to the Foundation dinner at St James’s Park.

Mitrovic and captain Jamaal Lascelles were among those who attended the night, which recognised the work done in the community by the charity and the achievements of those it supporters.

Meanwhile, Elland Road is sold out for Newcastle’s game against Leeds United on November 20.