Gary Rowett has had to change his mind about Dwight Gayle.
Gayle scored a hat-trick in Newcastle United’s 4-0 win over Rowett’s Birmingham City side yesterday.
Newcastle will give a few teams, not just a footballing lesson, a running lesson as well.Gary Rowett
Yoan Gouffran also netted in the game, which saw the club return to the top of the Championship.
Gayle faced Burton Albion, Rowett’s former club, while at Dagenham & Redbridge, and Rowett couldn’t foresee the striker’s rapid rise at the time.
The Birmingham manager now feels Gayle is a Premier League player thanks to his “incredible hunger”.
“He is a Premier League-class striker, but five or six years ago when he was playing Bishop’s Stortford he wasn’t,” said Rowett. “He has shown incredible hunger to get better.
“We played against him for Burton against Dagenham and Redbridge, and at the time I probably couldn’t have seen him scoring a hat-trick against a team of mine in the Championship.
“But that’s what desire and drive does to you. His movement is really good. He is an intelligent footballer.
“He probably epitomises that next level of quality and intelligence that sometimes the top teams have.”
On Newcastle, Rowett added: “I think Newcastle are probably the best team I’ve seen in the Championship.
“I’m thinking back to some of the teams that got promoted in this division, and I think they probably give you more problems and test you in more different ways. That’s without the players that aren’t in their team.
“Newcastle will give a few teams, not just a footballing lesson, a running lesson as well.”