Steve Bruce must unleash Dwight Gayle and offer the Newcastle United striker a chance to earn a new contract amid doubt over Callum Wilson’s fitness.
According to Chronicle Live (8/2, 21:49), the Magpies are awaiting the results of scans after Wilson was sent for assessment on a potential injury following Saturday’s 3-2 win over Southampton.
The ex-AFC Bournemouth forward is expected to miss at least United’s next Premier League fixture, when Bruce’s Toon visit top-four hopefuls Chelsea on Monday night.
Wilson was one of three causalities from the Saints win when forced off before half-time with an expected hamstring injury, after Bruce had already lost right-back Javier Manquillo and later saw Fabian Schar be sidelined for several months with a torn knee ligament.
Wilson estimated that he is facing a spell on the sidelines immediately following last weekend’s result, having taken to Twitter to tell supporters that he is working to be back “ASAP”.
— Callum Wilson (@CallumWilson) February 6, 2021
The £20m summer singing from Bournemouth was making his 21st top-flight start in black and white on Saturday, looking to add to his 10 strikes and five assists after providing a hand in four goals during Newcastle’s previous three league fixtures (two scored, two assisted).
No Magpies player has been involved in as many goals during Premier League games this term than Wilson, with Miguel Almiron offering the second-most goals after his match-winning brace against the Saints moved the Paraguayan onto four and one assist to date.
Allan Saint-Maximin assisted one of Almiron’s strikes plus debutant Joe Willock to record his second and third of the season, to move behind Wilson and above Joelinton (2) in the chart.
Bruce will now be left searching for goals at striker should Wilson face a lengthy spell out, with Andy Carroll, Gayle and Joelinton each offering one thus far.
Gayle is yet to start a game for Newcastle in any competition this term, having begun the campaign with a knee problem after injuring his MCL during a pre-season training camp and was later sidelined through a non-Covid related sickness.
He played no part in Saturday’s win over Southampton while left an unused substitute for the fifth time this term, but should be looked upon more favourably than Carroll or Joelinton against Chelsea should Wilson’s hamstring issue prevent his involvement.
The £7m-rated outcast is said to have grown frustrated at his lack of game time thus far this season as Gayle has now entered into the final six months of his contract. And while he would be open to penning new terms, is expected to demand a strong offer to commit to Newcastle after being given a £40,000-per-week deal during his previous negotiations.
His track record this term would not paint a picture of a player deserving of a pay rise having only played 160 minutes across all competitions, thus Bruce must afford Gayle the chance to play himself into a new contract.
The 31-year-old was able to get amongst the goals following the restart of the 2019/20 campaign last June, netting all four of his Premier League goals in the final eight games.
Carroll will not be expected to match that output with his goal against Leicester City last month ending a 1,005-day drought in the top-flight for the 32-year-old, while Joelinton has scored only three times in 55 Premier League games since joining Newcastle.