Newcastle's Dwight Gayle excited by return of Aleksandar Mitrovic
Dwight Gayle says the return of Aleksandar Mitrovic will mean double trouble for the Championship.
Gayle took his goal tally to the season to four with Newcastle United’s winner against Bristol City.
Saturday’s 1-0 win at Ashton Gate lifted the club up to seventh in the Championship ahead of tomorrow night’s home EFL Cup game against Cheltenham Town.
Mitrovic has now served a four-game ban for last season’s two dismissals and is eligible to play in the second-round tie.
United manager Rafa Benitez could rest Gayle against Cheltenham.
But it won’t be long before Gayle and Mitrovic are paired up front by Benitez, whose side take on Brighton and Hove Albion in the league at St James’s Park on Saturday.
“Mitro’s coming back on Tuesday, so hopefully he can come in and work hard with me as well up front,” said Gayle.
“We’ve got great depth in the squad at the moment. We’ve got Ayo (Perez), (Mohamed) Diame, Mitro and (Adam) Armstrong. We’ve got five strikers, and we’re all going to be working hard.
“If we’re not playing well, we’re going to swap it around. It’s great to have for the team.”
Mohamed Diame set up Gayle’s first-half goal with a deft ball from the right. The 25-year-old took a touch before shooting low past Richard O’Donnell.
Newcastle went on to defend deep and in numbers to protect their slender lead.
And Gayle was full of praise for his team-mates after the match.
“It’s fantastic to help the team,” said No 9 Gayle, signed from Crystal Palace for £10million this summer.
“Everyone’s chipping in. The defence were the reason we got the three points. I thank them for that, and we all go back together on the plane and go again on Tuesday.”
Benitez recalled captain Jamaal Lascelles to his starting XI.
And Lascelles and his defensive colleagues had to deal with a series of long balls and set-pieces from City, who went on to dominate the game.
On United’s defending, Gayle added: “We all have great belief in the way we’re set up.
“The gaffer sets us up to defend well, and we’ve got great defenders.
“I thought we coped with the long balls well.
“They didn’t really look like scoring. Maybe once or twice they had little half-chances, but nothing was a clear-cut chance. I thought we defended really well.”
The victory followed a 4-1 home success over Reading.
“I think the Reading game was a turning point for us,” added Gayle. “It gave us great belief going forward.
“We’ve got a big game on Tuesday and we go again in the league on Saturday.
“Hopefully, we can keep performing.”
“It was good to back up the performance with another win. It was a different game.
“I think the defence was fantastic. It was more of a Championship game.
“We had a lot to do defensively and there were a lot of long balls.
“We coped with it well.”
Palace accepted a £10million bid from City for Gayle last summer, but he opted to stay at Selhurst Park for another season.
And Gayle has no regrets about his decision.
“It was in my mind, but at the time I was still involved at Palace,” he said. “I felt I needed to push myself for one more year there.
“I think I still made the right decision, and I’m happy where we are now.”
Newcastle were backed by 2,501 travelling fans at the rebuilt Ashton Gate, which hosted its largest crowd – 22,512 – in 26 years.
“It’s crazy to think how many people were travelling down to Bristol from Newcastle,” said Gayle.
It’s a long journey. It’s fantastic support, and it’s helping us along the way.”