Is it time for Joselu to be taken out of the firing line at Newcastle?

Newcastle United's Joselu.
Newcastle United's Joselu.

Is it time to take Joselu out of the firing line?

Rafa Benitez has a decision to make ahead of Liverpool’s visit to St James’s Park.

Benitez, for the first time this season, has three strikers to choose from at Newcastle United.

Joselu has been leading the line in recent weeks.

But Dwight Gayle – who played 61 minutes for the Under-23s last night – is also fit and available. And Benitez can also call upon Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has served a three-game ban.

Joselu, signed from Stoke City last month for £5million, has done well. The striker – who scored on his full debut – has won headers, held the ball up and linked up play.

Joselu has ticked a lot of boxes.

The 27-year-old has been in the right place, at the time, but he knows he will ultimately be judged on goals.

And Joselu has missed a series of chances in the club’s last two games. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Before Brighton and Hove Albion scored what would turn out to be the only goal of the game at the Amex Stadium on Sunday, Joselu dragged a shot wide of Mathew Ryan’s goal. Joselu should at least have hit the target.

“In the Premier League, you have to take your chances when they come along,” said Benitez.

At least a below-par Newcastle did create chances.

Midfielder Isaac Hayden said: “Ask any player, loads of players have missed chances. I’ve missed chances in games. Loads of players have missed chances.

“Everyone’s had a miss where you’ve gone ‘oh you should have put that on target’ or ‘you should have scored’.

“As long as we’re creating the chances then it’s fine. Eventually, we’ll score, and it’s just about being patient and improving our finishing sometimes. The main thing for us is we’re creating the chances. If we weren’t creating the chances then we’ve got an issue.”

Gayle, yet to make any kind of mark on United’s return to the Premier League, is next in line.

The 26-year-old – who came off the bench at the Amex Stadium – has recovered from the hamstring issue which troubled him at the start of the season.

Benitez said Gayle, last season’s top scorer, had been training well ahead of the Brighton game.

Gayle’s physically right, but is he mentally right? He hasn’t looked himself in the few glimpses we’ve had of him so far this season.

It’s time for Gayle to show he’s a Premier League player.

Then there’s Mitrovic, who was banned for three games for stupidly and needlessly elbowing West Ham United’s Manuel Lanzini late last month.

“The competition will increase now, and I think that will be good for the team,” said Benitez ahead of the visit of Liverpool, his former club.

Let’s hope so.