The under-used striker, however, has still played a big role at the club over the past few months, according to Howe.
Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles revealed this week at the opening of NUCASTLE, the Newcastle United Foundation’s £8million new home, that Gayle was top of a training ground performance leaderboard.
“Dwight Gayle’s top,” said Lascelles. “If he loses a game, he’s miserable.”
Howe was asked about Gayle – who signed a new three-year contract at St James’s Park last summer – and his readiness to play ahead of Sunday's game against Tottenham Hotspur.
“Dwight’s been very, very good in his training performances, and, quite rightly, deserves recognition from me,” said United’s head coach.
“He’s someone I respect greatly. He’s a real leader of the group behind the scenes. His training performances every day have been of the highest level, his professionalism has been of the highest level.
"He’s an incredible finisher, one of the best finishers I’ve every worked with without a doubt. He just needs to be ready for his moment, his chance. I firmly believe it will come.
"I trust Dwight, as well. I think he’ll deliver whatever I ask him to deliver. He will commit to that.
"You have your players that are playing, but the guys that aren’t playing, behind the scenes, are so important to the culture and feel of the group. Dwight’s been pivotal to keeping that very, very positive. He’s been a big reason why the team’s done so well.”