Rafa Benitez sheds light on Dwight Gayle's surprise absence from his Newcastle teamsheet

Dwight Gayle
Dwight Gayle

Rafa Benitez has revealed why Dwight Gayle was not involved against West Ham United.

Gayle didn't even make the substitute's bench for Saturday's Premier League game, which Newcastle United won 3-0 thanks to goals from Joselu, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ciaran Clark.

The striker, signed from Crystal Palace last summer, had sat out the midweek Carabao Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest because of illness.

But Gayle, last season's top scorer, was back in training ahead of the West Ham match.

And Benitez says Gayle's absence was down to the form of Joselu and Mitrovic in training – and NOT the bug which had sidelined him earlier in the week.

Asked if he was left out of the squad entirely, Newcastle manager Benitez said: "No.

"He wasn’t on the bench because Mitrovic has been doing well and training well. We had two strikers (Mitrovic and Joselu), and they both scored."

A report yesterday claimed that Gayle could even be sold this summer.

The 26-year-old – who felt his hamstring earlier this month – has looked out of sorts in recent appearances.

And Benitez, speaking ahead of the West Ham fixture, said Gayle needs to "get back to his level".

"Obviously, he has to go back to his level, but sometimes with strikers, it depends on scoring goals and confidence or something like that, so we'll see," said Benitez.

"He's coming back and he's training well again, but because he had this issue maybe two or three weeks ago, he was a little bit worried and we were talking.

“In reality, he was not injured, so it's just the confidence. I think he needs his confidence back.

“He's fine. He was training. I just need to do the squad (for West Ham)."

Meanwhile, Gayle and his team-mates are yet to agree a bonus sheet for this season.