Rafa Benitez has provided a mixed update on the fitness of Dwight Gayle – who sat out of Newcastle’s 2-0 win over Verona – claiming he should be ‘OK’ for Spurs on Sunday, but is dealing with confidence problems over his reoccurring hamstring problem.
Speaking after Newcastle’s final pre-season game of the summer at St. James’ Park, Benitez said the following when asked about Dwight Gayle’s surprise exclusion from the squad:
“Dwight is training with the fitness coach, so hopefully he can carry on training this week.
“If everything if fine, I think he will be OK for Sunday.”
With Daryl Murphy sold and Emmanuel Riviere heading out the exit door, Aleksandar Mitrovic was our only available striker for the game following Gayle’s omission – a real cause for concern given the new season starts on Sunday.
It is therefore a big relief to here Gayle should be fit to face Tottenham, however I found the next part of Benitez’s response quite concerning, where he states Gayle is suffering from confidence problems – suggesting his reoccurring hamstring trouble is playing on his mind:
“He needs the confidence to know he can sprint and do everything as he was doing before.
“It’s a question of confidence, so we will carry on pushing him in training and hopefully we can get back the confidence.
“It’s not his hamstring – it’s more the feeling that he has.
“He’s not comfortable and we don’t want to take any risks.”
I’m relieved to here Gayle is ‘ok’, but I sincerely hope he overcomes his confidence issues surrounding the hamstring injury – a problem that was visibly holding him back over the run in last season.
One thing that has only been amplified by this is our desperate need for a new striker or two.
Not only is a proven goalscorer required, but I would suggest a Daryl Murphy replacement is also necessary – especially given Aleksandar Mitrovic’s future could be elsewhere if an acceptable bid arrives.