Rafa Benitez makes bold claim about Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle

Dwight Gayle celebrates his goal against Wigan
Dwight Gayle celebrates his goal against Wigan

Rafa Benitez says Dwight Gayle’s returning to form at the right time.

The Newcastle United striker took his goal tally for the season to 22 with a strike in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic at St James’s Park.

He’s getting better with every training session.

Rafa Benitez

Gayle is just two goals behind Championship leading scorer Chris Wood with seven games left to play.

The 26-year-old has now fully recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered in January.

And United manager Benitez feels Gayle can add to his tally between now and the end of the campaign as the league leaders close in on promotion.

“He’s getting better with every training session,” said Benitez, whose side lead the division by a point.

“You need match fitness. He’s improving.

“The more he trains in the coming weeks, he’ll get even better.”

The Wigan game, which saw Newcastle stretch their lead over third-placed Huddersfield Town to 10 points, also saw midfielder Isaac Hayden make his comeback from injury.

Hayden – who had ankle surgery in February – came off the bench late in the game.

And the 22-year-old is in contention for a start at home to Burton Albion on Wednesday night after coming through the match which no ill-effects.

Asked about Hayden’s timely return, Benitez said: “When you have all the players available, you can mange things easier if you see players tiring.

“We have another game soon, and it’s good to have fresh legs.”