Dwight Gayle ready to shoot down Norwich City again

Dwight Gayle struck a hat-trick in Newcastle's4-3 Championship win against Norwich City. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Dwight Gayle struck a hat-trick in Newcastle's4-3 Championship win against Norwich City. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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Rafa Benitez must weigh up whether to unleash fit-again sharpshooter Dwight Gayle on Norwich City at Carrow Road.

Gayle was in the squad who travelled south for Tuesday’s Championship duel after recovering from a hamstring injury. Table-topping Newcastle’s 20-goal top scorer, who was heavily touted with the Canaries before moving to St James’ Park last summer, plundered a hat-trick in an epic 4-3 win earlier this season.

“It’s important to have the top scorer coming back,” said Benitez. “In one way it’s a boost for everyone, because he was doing really well and hopefully he can carry on scoring goals until the end of the season. “Everything is going well. We have Dwight Gayle in the squad, so that’s good news for everyone. We have a team of 25 players available now and just two injuries, so I’m quite happy with that. As I say a lot of times, it’s a problem for me, but it’s a good problem.”

Benitez is not fooled by Norwich’s mid-season slump ahead of a testing trip to Carrow Road.

“It will be a very tough game, because in the first part of the season it was clear that it was a team that, for me, was a candidate to win the title,” the Spaniard told his club’s official site. “It’s a team that has experience, with the manager, players, quality and atmosphere.

“They were in a very good position, and I was thinking that they would be at the top of the table, fighting for first and second position. They are doing well again, and that means that they will be very dangerous. They’re a very good team, with experience in the division. They have players who have quality, and they know their jobs.”

Alex Neil has spoken about the struggles to adapt to the more robust Championship and Benitez admitted the Magpies had to overcome the same issue.

“When you get relegated, you can see that it’s not easy to understand what is going on (in the Championship) with the intensity, the physicality, the referees, everything,” he said. “It takes some time, and they were going up and down, but they had the experience, the manager, the players and the quality, so I thought they would be at the top of the table from the beginning. They are doing well now, and hopefully after this game they will continue, but we will try to do our best to stop their run.”

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