Steve Bruce must unleash Dwight Gayle at Burnley on Sunday after Rob Lee questioned Newcastle United’s decision to hand the striker a new, three-year contract.
Lee has exclusively told Football FanCast that he suspects the Toon dressing room will be wondering what Gayle has done to earn a new deal after a difficult 18-months.
The striker is currently set to leave St. James’ Park as a free agent in June, but Bruce recently confirmed that Gayle has been offered a new deal and expects to see the 31-year-old put pen to paper soon.
Reports by The Athletic had claimed that Gayle was presented with a three-year deal but on lesser terms, following rumoured interest from Galatasaray and a host of European, Championship, Middle Eastern and MLS sides.
Lee believes Gayle earning a deal that will keep him in the north east through to the summer of 2024 will be particularly confusing for the young players coming through, and questions why Newcastle would sign off on the deal amid a relegation fight.
“I’d say it’s confusing from a player’s point of view because you’d look at it and think over the last 18-months, he hasn’t played much, and when he has the goals haven’t been there and he’s rewarded with a three-year contract?” Lee told FFC.
“If I was a player coming through, I’d be questioning what has he done to earn that contract. I don’t know why they are signing him now because we’re in a relegation battle, and I don’t get why you would be signing players up unless they are planning to play in the Championship next season?”
Of his goals, only one has come this term, with Gayle finding the back of the net to seal a 2-1 win for Newcastle over relegation-rivals West Bromwich Albion in December after coming off the bench.
Part of the reason behind Gayle’s limited action has been down to a relentless stream of injuries, with the London-born frontman sustaining a calf issue in pre-season before the 2019 Premier League Asia Cup and pulled his groin the following January.
The current season began with another lengthy spell out after he damaged medial collateral ligaments in a pre-season friendly with Crewe Alexandra, and has only started three of a potential 19 Premier League games since returning at home to West Brom in December.
Bruce simply has to now unleash Gayle, and give the goal-shy forward a consistent run of minutes in the starting line-up over the final stretch of the season to justify Newcastle’s decision to lock the striker down to a three-year contract.
If not and Gayle remains nothing more than a bit-part backup option – especially with Callum Wilson closing in on a return from his hamstring injury – then question marks will only continue to emerge over his long-term deal.
AND in other news, Newcastle could offer a new contract to a player Steve Bruce has never spoken to…