Rafa Benitez says Dwight Gayle can be Newcastle United’s running man as Newcastle United head towards the Championship finishing line.
Gayle is in line to start Monday night’s game against Aston Villa at St James’s Park after coming off the bench in Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw against Norwich City.
The striker had been sidelined for a month with the hamstring problem he suffered after scoring his 20th goal of the season.
Benitez has alternated between Aleksandar Mitrovic and Daryl Murphy in the absence of Gayle.
“It’s important for the team – we needed to have another kind of striker,” said Benitez.
“The two players (Mitrovic and Murphy) can hold the ball up or be a target man, and he’s someone that can run and create his own chances and take chances.”
Benitez sent on Gayle in the 76th minute with the Championship leaders trailing Norwich 2-1.
Gayle followed Mohamed Diame and Christian Atsu on the pitch at Carrow Road, where captain Jamaal Lascelles scored a late equaliser.
Asked if he had been tempted to put Gayle on earlier, Benitez said: “He could do it, but Mitrovic was doing well. To be fair, we were a threat in the air and winning second balls, so it was not easy.
“The substitutions ... Jack (Colback), because I wanted to have more offensive mentality, legs or creativity, but he was doing well too.
“After, Ritchie, because Atsu can pass players.
“It wasn’t that they were doing badly, it was because we needed to changes something.”