Rafa Benitez explains the next steps for Dwight Gayle at Newcastle

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Dwight Gayle could be back in training at Newcastle United in a matter of days.

Gayle limped out of Monday night’s game against Aston Villa after feeling his hamstring.

And there were fears that the 20-goal striker could be sidelined for a month.

But Benitez is confident that Gayle has NOT suffered a recurrence of the injury which sidelined him for almost a month.

The 26-year-old had a spell out last season with a hamstring problem while playing for Crystal Palace.

And Benitez knows Gayle must feel physically AND mentally ready before he can return to the pitch.

“He’s doing well – all the tests are fine,” said Benitez, whose side take on Bristol City at St James’s Park this afternoon.

“Hopefully, if he feels OK, he can come back to training. After, it depends how he feels. We will decide when he’s ready.

“It’s always important to have competition in each position. In this case, we are talking about the top scorer in the league.

“He was doing really for us. It’s important to have everyone available, but especially someone who’s scored so many goals.”

Gayle missed training – and sleep – in the build-up to the Villa game after becoming a father.

And Benitez believes that was a factor in the discomfort he felt on the pitch.

Gayle had been doing preventative work with the club’s physios, and the measures put in place by the club’s staff should lesson the chances of a repeat injury.

“You have to have a way to treat the injuries and a way to prevent them,” said Benitez, whose side lead the Championship by a point.

“He was doing the prevention work. Sometimes it’s just a question of keeping working, feeling better and having more confidence.”

Benitez, however, is refusing to put a timescale on Gayle’s return.

“We don’t have a timescale for Dwight,” said the manager, who had sent him on late in last week’s 2-2 draw against Norwich City.

“He’s doing really well, and we are quite pleased with the situation now. But we cannot say how long he will be out for.

“He is not training, but all the tests we have done are quite positive. It is a question of his confidence more than anything.

“I think it will be less than four weeks. We have been watching the video (of the Villa game), and we couldn’t see any situation where he was feeling real pain or problems.

“He was not comfortable, but all the tests we did before he played against Norwich, he was fine. The tests we have done after are OK.

“It’s just a question of confidence. He has to feel that he’s fine. Now, we just have to treat him and make sure he is comfortable.

“To lose your top scorer is not ideal, you miss something. But when (Daryl) Murphy and (Aleksandar) Mitrovic had to play, they have done well, and we also have Ayoze (Perez).

“We can cope with that, but it would be better to have Dwight on the pitch competing with the others. I’m quite positive.”

Asked if Gayle could return against second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Tuesday night, Benitez said: “We will have to see. He has to train so we can see the feeling that he has.

“If he feels fine, we will see what he wants to do.”

Gayle will work over the weekend in a bid to return to training next week.