Newcastle boss Benitez pleased with Gayle double at Leeds
Rafa Benitez has revealed what he told Dwight Gayle after the striker was punched in a nightclub.
The Newcastle United striker suffered damage to his teeth in an incident in a nightclub during the international break.
Gayle yesterday sank his teeth into Leeds United by scoring both his team’s goals in a 2-0 victory at Elland Road.
The result, the club’s ninth successive win in all competitions, saw the club stretch their lead at the top of the Championship to five points.
Gayle had been celebrating captain Jamaal Lascelles’s birthday in Liverpool when he was struck.
But the summer signing insisted after the match that there was never a question mark over his involvement against Leeds.
And Newcastle manager Benitez said: “It was nothing. It was almost nothing, I would say. I told him ‘listen, if you want to make sure nobody talks too much about that, score goals’, and he did.”
Gayle had been an unused substitute in Newcastle’s last game, the 2-1 success over Ipswich Town at St James’s Park early this month.
Aleksandar Mitrovic’s form had given Benitez a headache before the Leeds game.
In the end, Benitez opted for Gayle, who went on to take his goal tally for the season to 13 with a strike in each half.
“It was quite difficult for me to decide if I would play Mitro or him, because they are both training really well, they are scoring goals,” said Benitez.
“It’s good for me because it’s a nice problem. I have a lot of confidence in both.
“You have to decide, analyse how they are in the training sessions. Dwight was training with us, he was not with the national team.
“Mitrovic is doing really well. I was watching the (Serbia) game against Wales and he scored a great goal.
“It’s difficult because both are pushing and doing well. It’s credit to them.”
Meanwhile, Gayle said his participation was never in doubt when asked about the nightclub incident.
“No, there was never any doubt,” said the 26-year-old. “I was fine.”
Gayle’s first came from a mistake from Leeds goalkeeper Rob Green, who dropped a hopeful ball forward from Jack Colback.
“You have got to follow everything in,” said Gayle. “Luckily, he’s dropped it and I was there to knock it in for the team.”
Newcastle moved the ball from back to front for his second, scored from a low Vurnon Anita cross.
Gayle added: “The second one was a great ball by Vurnon and great play from the team. They’re setting me up at the moment, and I just can’t help but score.”