Former Sunderland and England striker Darren Bent has backed Dwight Gayle to thrive in the Premier League with Newcastle if given game time by Steve Bruce, as told to Football Insider.
Gayle spent the summer with his future at the club hanging in the balance, as speculation emerged that United were confident we could sell the London-born forward for £20million amid interest from numerous Championship sides.
Curiosity remained on the boil in the second-tier heading all the way up to Deadline Day, but Newcastle’s asking price and Gayle’s demands for a top-flight wage ensured any deal would be challenging.
What made the rarely-seen Toon striker so attractive to Championship outfits was his prolific return in front of goal in the second-tier of English football, having scored 24 times for West Bromwich Albion while on loan with the Hawthorns side last season, as well as netting 23 with United in the 2016/17 term.
The former Crystal Palace striker has never managed to achieve such in the top-flight, though, with his best return in the Premier League for us coming in the 2017/18 season; when he found the back of the net six times in 35 appearances.
Even Gayle’s best Premier League season in front of goal failed to see the 28-year-old hit double figures, with his efforts for the Eagles in 2013/14 returning seven successful strikes in 23 games.
His inability to return the same sort of numbers in the top-flight has led to some dubbing Gayle a ‘Championship striker’, but Bent is confident he can shake off the tag if Bruce places his faith in him.
“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 said.
“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 may have featured regularly for West Brom during his loan spell, but the forward was rarely seen on Tyneside before his departure, with the striker awarded 1,958 minutes of action during the 2017/18 campaign by Rafa Benitez.