Rafa Benitez runs rule over Dwight Gayle as Vurnon Anita returns to training

Battling back to fitness: Dwight Gayle. Picture by Frank Reid
Battling back to fitness: Dwight Gayle. Picture by Frank Reid

Dwight Gayle is battling to play in title-chasing Newcastle United’s final game of the season.

The striker is back in training after spending almost a month on the sidelines.

And Gayle could yet make the squad for Sunday’s home match against Barnsley.

The 27-year-old limped out of the club’s defeat to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough early last month with a hamstring problem.

Gayle – who has scored 22 Championship goals this season – is being assessed ahead of the Barnsley fixture.

And his availability would give United manager Rafa Benitez a timely extra option for the visit of Paul Heckingbottom’s mid-table side to St James’s Park.

Benitez will be without a number of senior players, notably injured captain Jamaal Lascelles and suspended winger Matt Ritchie.

Benitez left a number of players carrying injuries out of his squad for last Friday night’s game against Cardiff City, which Newcastle won 2-0.

Defensive pair Grant Hanley and Jesus Gamez – who didn’t travel to South Wales for the game at the Cardiff City Stadium – are yet to return to training.

However, Vurnon Anita – who also sat out the Cardiff game – is back on the practice pitch.

Second-placed United need to better Brighton and Hove Albion’s result against Aston Villa at Villa Park to win the title.

Newcastle are a point behind Chris Hughton’s league leaders, who have a worse goal difference.

Brighton have lost their last two games.