If there was one player you didn’t want to see go down injured, it was Dwight Gayle.
With 20 goals (watch all of them HERE) in 21 Championship starts, Newcastle fans face the prospect of doing without the player who is not only top scorer in the Championship but all four divisions.
More worrying maybe though, is both the player and Rafa Benitez (see below) confirming that it is a hamstring injury that saw the striker forced off on Saturday, shortly after scoring a brilliant opening goal.
No news yet on how serious the hamstring problem is – but it is extra worrying with it being the third such problem Dwight Gayle has faced in only 14 months.
After playing for Crystal Palace in a home draw with Manchester United on Halloween 2015, Gayle was missing for Palace until he returned as came on as a late substitute for Connor Wickham in a 1-1 draw at Everton on 7 December 2015.
That five week week recovery time proved insufficient with the then Crystal Palace striker breaking down once again with his hamstring problem.
This time it was almost three months Dwight Gayle missed, as he only returned as a late sub for Yohan Cabaye in a 3-2 defeat at West Brom on 27 February 2016.
Easy to think that Gayle was brought back far too quick, with the five weeks out then becoming another three months on the sidelines – the player effectively missing from 31 October 2015 to 27 February 2016, four months without playing apart from the 13 minutes as a sub at Everton.
When you take into consideration his Manager was Alan Pardew, it becomes even easier to think that Dwight Gayle was rushed back too early last season from his hamstring injury, Pardew having built a reputation at Newcastle for taking too many chances with recovering players – who then ended up injured for far longer than they probably would have been.
Rafa Benitez has already shown that this is not his style and with both new signings and players who have been injured, he has taken the long-term view and tended to gradually introduce/reintroduce them into the first team this season.
Hopefully Dwight Gayle’s latest hamstring problem proves not as serious but at least we have confidence in Rafa managing the situation and not turning a drama into a crisis by gambling unnecessarily with his players’ longer-term availability.
“The doctor told me we will have to check (later on severity of injuries), obviously to make substitutions is not good news.
“With all three of them, we had to make the substitutions.
“It was a bad tackle on Anita and it was his ankle, Hayden it is his groin and Gayle it is his hamstring.”
“It is a hamstring (injury) and I had it last season as well.
“Fingers crossed it’s not too bad but we won’t know the full extent of it for a few days.
“We will see how it goes.
“Obviously it was frustrating to come off but the three points was the most important thing.
“I was buzzing that the boys ground out the three points.”
Interesting looking back at Dwight Gayle’s career so far and for a 26 year old he has played relatively very little first team football.
Since rising out of non-league, the most league starts he has made in a season is the 44 for Peterborough and Dagenham & Redbridge in 2012/13, then only 27 in three seasons at Palace, due to both injury and not getting opportunities when fit.