Newcastle United fear that top goalscorer Dwight Gayle’s season is over.
The striker suffered a hamstring injury in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
And Gayle is undergoing tests to determine the extent of the problem.
The club, which is second in the Championship as it bids for an instant return to the top flight, yesterday issued an update on the fitness of the 22-goal hitman, the Championship’s second-top scorer.
It read: “Newcastle United can confirm that Dwight Gayle sustained a hamstring strain in his right leg during United’s 2-1 defeat against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
“Dwight is currently undergoing tests to determine the severity of his injury, so it is not yet known how long the player may be out injured.”
The “best-case scenario” is a two to three-week absence, according to injury data analyst Ben Dinnery.
“It will come down to the extent of the damage,” said Dinnery. “If there’s a strain, the best-case scenario is 14 to 21 days.
“If it’s more serious, you could be looking at four to six weeks.
“Certainly, Rafa Benitez hasn’t been a manager to take risks with players.
“Obviously, it will depend on whether Newcastle go up automatically or go into the play-offs, but you’d think they’ll be done and dusted soon and the club will focus on getting Gayle right for pre-season.”
United manager Rafa Benitez must now choose between Daryl Murphy and Aleksandar Mitrovic for the Good Friday home game against Leeds United.
Asked if Gayle would miss the rest of the season at Hillsborough, Benitez said: “It’s too early (to say). It could be, but it’s too early.”
Newcastle are two points behind league leaders Brighton and Hove Albion and 10 points ahead of third-placed Huddersfield Town.
And Benitez’s side need a maximum of nine points from their last five games to secure automatic promotion.
On the club’s remaining games, Benitez said: “We know that these games could be very difficult.
“Now all we have to do is go to the level we’ve been playing in the past and be sure we improve our performance.
“I think the fans realise, watching these games, that we need them. We know they will continue supporting the team until the end.”