Rafa Benitez explains why Dwight Gayle isn't yet ready to return for Newcastle

Rafa Benitez says Dwight Gayle is almost back up to full speed at Newcastle United.

Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle.
Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle.

The pacy striker has been sidelined for almost a month with a hamstring problem.

Gayle suffered the injury after scoring his 20th goal of the season in last month’s win over Brentford.

The 26-year-old will not be involved in this evening’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.

But Gayle could be back for Tuesday night’s Championship fixture against Norwich City.

“He’s not in the squad, but he has been training with the team – nearly full sessions,” said United manager Benitez.

“He’s getting closer. Sometimes it depends on the confidence of the player, but he’s getting closer.

“He has been training, doing football. He’s very, very close.”

The return of Gayle would give the Championship leaders a welcome lift ahead of a tough run of games.

Benitez said: “Are we missing him? Yes. But not because the other players are not doing their jobs.

“He’s a different kind of player. If you have three options, it’s always better for you as a manager.”

In the absence of Gayle, Benitez will choose between Daryl Murphy and Aleksandar Mitrovic at Molineux.

“As I say, you are missing him because he’s a different kind of player,” said Gayle.

“If you are playing this way and it’s not going well, you can play the other way.

“At this time, we have to manage the big strikers that we have or play another player that was not playing in this position.”