Who Should Newcastle Replace Dwight Gayle With
Having lost their lead in the title race to Brighton, Newcastle were dealt a further huge blow at the weekend when Dwight Gayle fell to another hamstring injury at Sheffield Wednesday.
With 22 league goals this season and undoubtedly their first choice up front, Gayle will be a big miss for the run-in and a major decision has to be made by boss Rafa Benitez as to who will replace him for at least the next few crucial games.
During the first half of the season, Benitez claimed publicly that there was very little to choose between Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic each week. Mitro got his chance but since then he has faced criticism from previously adoring fans because of some lazy and ineffective displays.
Daryl Murphy took over as Gayle’s replacement and has shown a really cool head at times. His fine finish in the last minute of the first half against Rotherham gave Newcastle a crucial lead in a game which could have headed either way at the time. Murphy also scored an excellent second goal at Huddersfield, displaying amazing calmness and skill to slot the ball home from an acute angle. That goal effectively won the game for Newcastle.
Murphy’s hold-up play and ability to bring in the players around him is excellent. He knows this division so well and so his experience would be valuable. Mitrovic, on the other hand, is a hustle and bustle player who would definitely keep Bartley and Jansson occupied for 90 minutes which may yet be a very important asset to have.
Both players have very different qualities, and their records are so similar that it will give Benitez a major headache. In his professional games this season, Daryl Murphy has produced a goal or an assist every 134 minutes which is a decent record. Mitrovic though, despite his flaws, has done the same every 116 minutes and given that he has so much untapped potential, Benitez might give him another chance to shine when the pressure is on.
Given that Mitro is the type of player who is passionate but likes to be the focal point of attention, his above figures would probably have been slightly better had he been a regular in the team and so given the responsibility on Friday, he will probably thrive on it.