Dwight Gayle’s Newcastle United season has went from bad to worse, with it being revealed by Rafa that last seasons top scorer suffered an injury to his calf during his brief substitute appearance at Southampton yesterday.
The out of sorts forward hasn’t started a game in almost two months and replaced Joselu up top with 25 minutes to go in yesterday’s draw at St Mary’s.
There’s been lingering doubts over a reoccurring hamstring injury that has surfaced on several occasions over the past 6 months, however Benitez revealed after the game that it was in fact a calf injury that he sustained during his short cameo in the side:
“Dwight, we cannot say too much, because when he came on we were expecting to use his pace.
“But he had a little problem with his calf. He was working very hard, but with a problem. In the last 10 minutes we were playing with just 10 players. Even then, he was still running and he was chasing some balls and passing.
“But we couldn’t use his pace in the last 10 minutes, and that was a pity because we were under pressure and he was maybe the solution for us.
“But after the run he did, he was feeling a little bit stiff in his calf and he couldn’t run in the same way.”
Interestingly, Benitez suggests here that Gayle suffered the injury with 10 minutes to play, however I felt it looked like he was moving gingerly from the moment he stepped foot on the pitch?
It was visible late on that the injury was clearly affecting him, but as soon as he came on the pitch I felt he didn’t have that buzz about him that we so often associated with him last season. He was sent on to pressure their defence and use his pace in behind, but I’m not sure we ever saw him break stride?
To find out the club were open to offers for him on deadline day must have been a difficult one to take – especially given his exploits last season – but Gayle has looked worryingly out of sorts for a while now in terms of his sharpness, fitness and overall demeanour on the pitch.
His hamstring issues have become a persistent problem and now his calf appears to have gone. Benitez suggested recently that his hamstring injury had gotten to his head and you can’t help but wonder if these concerns are giving him somewhat of a mental block?
The extent of his calf injury is yet to be fully revealed, but it’s another blow for Gayle in his bid to regain some much needed form and match fitness.
With Joselu now top of the pecking order up front and Benitez recently admitting to being interested in signing another striker this winter, Gayle’s days are quite suddenly starting to look numbered at Newcastle.