Darren Bent has backed Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle for his reported decision to turn down a return to West Brom in the summer transfer window.
Gayle, 28, scored 24 goals in 41 appearances across all competitions while on loan at The Hawthorns last season as they finished fourth in the Championship standings and according to the Chronicle, the Baggies had agreed a second loan deal for the striker with Newcastle, only to be rejected by him close to the transfer deadline.
Sky Sports pundit Bent believes that Gayle is well within his rights to try and force his way back into the Newcastle side so that he avoids becoming too synonymous with the second-tier.
“For me, I understand where he’s coming from because he doesn’t want to get tagged with that ‘Championship striker’ tag, that is the worst tag you can have,” Bent told Football Insider.
“What you don’t want to keep doing is going to those clubs who are in the promotion race every season. You go to West Brom, they get promoted to the Premier League and then they send you away to one of the sides who have just been relegated.
“You don’t want to be tagged with that. A lot of people are saying he’s a very good Championship striker. I’m a firm believer he’s a very good striker – if he’s given games, he’ll score goals.”
Gayle will surely struggle to get into Steve Bruce’s plans this season. The former Crystal Palace striker was not on the bench when Newcastle lost 1-0 to Arsenal on the opening day of the new Premier League season on Sunday due to an injury he has had most of the summer and Yoshinori Muto may stay ahead of him in the pecking order once he’s back to full fitness. Andy Carroll is also there now to compete with Gayle and Joelinton is bound to be the undisputed first-choice striker for Bruce. Gayle will soon have to fight with two other strikers just to get on the bench and might only ever start if Joelinton gets injured or suspended. Everyone already sees Gayle as a top-class Championship striker and a not-so-good Premier League one. He can try to change that tag if he wants but he’s going to struggle. Gayle might as well have joined West Brom.