Gayle Wants Game

Last updated : 05 May 2017 By Footy Mad - Editor

DWIGHT GAYLE is hoping to be involved as Newcastle United attempt to claim the Championship title when they face Barnsley on Sunday.

Gayle has suffered a succession of hamstring problems that have limited him to just five league starts since the middle of January, and it was feared his season was at an end when he hobbled out of the first half of last month’s 2-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

He was not involved in the victory over Preston that secured promotion, or last weekend’s win at Cardiff which kept Newcastle’s title hopes alive, but has returned to full training in the hope of forcing his way into the squad for Sunday’s seasonal swansong.

The 27-year-old is desperate to be involved against Barnsley, and is understood to have reported no ill effects from his exertions on the training ground.

Rafael Benitez will be understandably reluctant to take any risks with Gayle, who has scored 22 Championship goals this season.

However, he will be keen to name the striker in his squad if he can, even if he is initially restricted to the substitutes’ bench.

There will be no Jamaal Lascelles or Matt Ritchie at the weekend – the former has undergone surgery while the latter is suspended – while Vurnon Anita and Yoan Gouffran could be making their final appearances for Newcastle, with their respective contracts due to expire in June.

Newcastle head into their final game with a realistic chance of winning the title, even though they will kick-off one point behind rivals Brighton.

Newcastle, on the other hand, have won their last two matches, and entertain a Barnsley team who have won just one of their last 13 games.

The bookmakers make Brighton the marginal favourites to claim the title, but the Football League have confirmed that trophies for first and second place will be present at both St James’ and Villa Park.

Meanwhile, Benitez has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association after making comments about the appointment of Huddersfield-born Andy Madley as the referee for Newcastle’s recent game with Preston.

Benitez raised the issue of Madley taking charge of such a crucial game when Huddersfield were still involved in the battle for an automatic promotion place.

An FA statement said: “Rafael Benitez has been charged with misconduct in respect of comments he made about the appointed match referee, prior to Newcastle United’s game against Preston North End on Monday 24 April.

“It is alleged his comments were improper and/or brought the game into disrepute contrary to FA Rule E3(1). He has until 6pm Tuesday 9 May 2017 to respond to the charge."

Prior to the Preston game, a number of Newcastle fans had questioned the wisdom of Madley’s appointment, and Benitez expressed surprise at the decision.

“I was really surprised with the assignation,” said Benitez, in his pre-match press conference. “But we have to trust the referees. We haven't had too much luck this year with some decisions, but I have always a lot of respect for the referees.

“I know it's a difficult job. Hopefully everything will be fine and nobody will be talking about the referee at the end of the game.”