Date: 20th March 2017 at 9:00pm
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Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez is hopeful the international break will aid striker Dwight Gayle’s return to full fitness.

The Magpies’ top goalscorer was on the bench for the 0-0 draw against Birmingham City at the weekend, with there are still ongoing concerns about his hamstring but Benitez is hopeful that the 27 year old will rediscover his confidence when the team returns after the two week break. He told the Chronicle:

“We have seen how important he is to us right through the season. We have competition up front and that can only be positive. It is in the international break now and that gives us an opportunity to improve the fitness of some players. I can only see that as a positive.”

Gayle has scored 21 goals in all competitions but has managed to find the back of the net just once in the last two months due to the recurring hamstring injury.

As Benitez mentions, the Magpies do have a good number of options up front to replace Gayle, with Daryl Murphy the latest to start against Birmingham at the weekend. Gayle is however the only one of the forwards in double figures this season, with Murphy on five, Aleksandar Mitrovic also on five, and Ayoze Perez on nine for the season.