Steve Bruce has confirmed Dwight Gayle missed Newcastle United’s loss to Arsenal on Monday night through illness but is unsure when the striker will return, according to Chronicle Live.
Gayle has not featured since the Toon were eliminated from the FA Cup earlier this month and is yet to start a single fixture in any competition, amid yet another injury ravished campaign for the 31-year-old.
The forward missed the opening three months of the season following knee surgery after sustaining a medial collateral ligament injury during the Magpies’ pre-season training camp, returning to make his campaign debut in December with the match-winning effort at home to West Bromwich Albion.
Bruce was frequently without Gayle during his maiden term at the helm last year, too, with the forward sustaining a calf injury in pre-season and a hamstring strain in January restricting the £7m-rated attacker to just 22 games.
Bruce is hoping to see Gayle return to action sooner rather than later and will assess the £40,000-per-week forward, who is a free agent in the summer, ahead of Saturday night’s clash with Aston Villa.
“Dwight’s been struggling with illness,” the Toon boss said. “Thankfully, we don’t think it’s Covid-related.”
Aston Villa have not played a competitive fixture since losing 4-1 at home to Liverpool in the FA Cup on January 8 after an outbreak of coronavirus cases, that saw 14 players and staff test positive in one of the worst situations seen in the Premier League yet.
The Villans’ top-flight fixtures with Tottenham Hotspur and Everton had to be postponed as a result of the outbreak, but both Villa and Newcastle being eliminated from the FA Cup left each side with a free weekend to play their postponed December fixture.
Gayle failing to overcome his illness ahead of Newcastle’s rescheduled visit to Villa Park on Saturday night will likely see Bruce once again look to Andy Carroll to partner Callum Wilson in attack as he strives to get the Magpies firing again.
Carroll started only his third Premier League fixture of the season at Arsenal on Monday, where Newcastle failed to score in a top-flight game for the seventh time this term as the Gunners held them back to just four shots with one on target.
Bruce will need Carroll to step up to the challenge far more at Villa Park than he achieved at the Emirates, with the £3m-rated target man now boasting just a single goal in over 1,000 days across all competitions after netting in the Toon’s 2-1 loss at Leicester earlier this month.
The 32-year-old’s goal came from one of three shots in what was his second-most productive Premier League appearance of the season so far, with Carroll failing to get an effort away in five games and only attempting a single shot on four occasions, per WhoScored.
With Wilson also only boasting one goal in his last seven top-flight outings, Bruce can ill-afford to see Carroll prove toothless at a time the relegation zone continues to creep ever closer.
AND in other news, Newcastle United are being targeted to solve another PL side’s transfer crisis…