Rafa Benitez upbeat on Dwight Gayle after watching him in training at Newcastle

Newcastle United's manager Rafael Benitez shakes hands with Dwight Gayle.

Newcastle United's manager Rafael Benitez shakes hands with Dwight Gayle.

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Dwight Gayle is touch and go for Newcastle United’s visit to Molineux.

Dwight Gayle is touch and go for Newcastle United’s visit to Molineux.

The 20-goal striker is close to a return from the hamstring injury he suffered in last month’s Championship win over Brentford.

Gayle wasn’t ready in time to face Steve McClaren’s Derby County at St James’s Park this afternoon.

But the 26-year-old could return against Wolverhampton Wanderers on February 11.

Gayle had a spell out with a hamstring problem last season and Benitez wants him ready physically and “mentally”.

“I think he is quite close,” said United manager Rafa Benitez.

“We didn’t put a timeframe on it, because we didn’t know exactly and we were a little bit worried because mentally he was struggling a little.

“But I could see this week that after the training sessions, he is quite happy and positive.

“We were talking about three weeks, but maybe it could have been even more.

“I think he is quite happy and I can see him coming back soon.

“How soon? You never know, because in one week he could be doing well, could train a little bit and then you have a little problem.

“I think he’s doing well. If everything’s OK, next weekend? Why not.

“But I don’t want to put the time on this that it is the time he has to come back.

“In theory it could be a little bit more, but I have confidence it can be earlier.”

Meanwhile, defender Chancel Mbemba and midfielder Jack Colback will also miss the Derby game.