Hardly anyone was surprised by Dwight Gayle’s outstanding form at West Brom last season.
Even though the Baggies failed to win promotion, the 28-year-old managed to score an impressive 24 goals in 41 appearances across all competitions while on loan at The Hawthorns from Newcastle United.
After returning to St James’ Park in the summer, many Albion fans hoped to see the former Crystal Palace striker return to the Black Country up until an interview by sporting and technical director Luke Dowling ruled out the possibility of a second deal for the forward.
That was a blow for West Brom but despite struggling to finance a move for Gayle, they still pushed on and according to the Chronicle, they actually reached an agreement for another loan deal towards the back-end of the summer transfer window.
However Gayle was not keen on another temporary switch to The Hawthorns and rejected West Brom’s efforts to strike a late summer deal and boost their bid for promotion back to the Premier League.
Everyone at The Hawthorns was understandably gutted but now, it seems as though Slaven Bilic has dodged a big bullet by not being able to snap up the London-born centre-forward.
Right now, Gayle is still suffering from a calf injury he picked up on his return to the North-East and he is yet to feature in a single matchday squad under Steve Bruce’s leadership.
It could have been a huge mistake of West Brom’s to sign Gayle while he was injured because Newcastle and their medical staff still seem to have no clue about when the 28-year-old will be able to return to full fitness.
Supporters of the Black Country club should probably be thankful that the striker turned them down because while it seemed like a blow at the time, it is now looking like it was a blessing in disguise.
How would Bilic expect his team to win promotion without a star striker? West Brom signed Charlie Austin on deadline day in what looks like a move that came about due to their failure to land Gayle, but if they did manage to snap up the Newcastle striker, it seems unlikely a deal would have been struck with Southampton for Austin.
Only Kenneth Zohore would have been a fit and available striker option at The Hawthorns by now.
This is what Bruce had to say, as quoted by the Shields Gazette, about Gayle in his latest update on the crocked striker: “Dwight’s a big disappointment for me, because I’ve now been here for six, seven weeks, but this injury has not got any better, which is a big concern to all of us.”
It remains to be seen how Gayle’s recovery will go over the coming weeks and months.
Hopefully it is not too long before he returns because, as reported by Chronicle journalist Mark Douglas, West Brom could revisit their interest in the Newcastle man once the transfer window re-opens in January.
As long as he is fit and is able to go straight into the Baggies starting line-up, that should still be something on Bilic’s mind by the time 2019 comes to an end.