Dwight Gayle is hoping he has caught Steve Bruce’s eye as he attempts to end a difficult season in a positive way.
The 29-year-old striker fired Newcastle to within seven minutes of securing victory over Aston Villa on Wednesday evening with his first Premier League goal since May 2018, a season-long loan at West Brom and a succession of niggling injuries having prevented him from doing so sooner.
Magpies head coach Bruce is a big fan having tried to sign the frontman three times earlier in his managerial career, but with £40million summer signing Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron ahead of Gayle and Andy Carroll, with whom he combined for his goal, in the pecking order, the Londoner knows he has work to do.
He told nufc TV: “I need to do more and I need to get more minutes and help out the team a lot more, I know I need to do that.
“It’s been a frustrating season for me injury-wise and hopefully I can help out the team as much as I can over the next few weeks.
“The boys have been fantastic over the last few weeks, they’ve looked a real threat. We performed so well on Sunday (in a 3-0 win against Sheffield United) and hopefully we can keep banging on the door when we come off the bench to prove to the manager that we’re all there to help out.”
Gayle struck within a minute of his introduction against Villa, accepting Carroll’s pass and holding off defender Ezri Konsa before beating keeper Orjan Nyland.
However, the Magpies could not hold on to add another win to the one they secured against Sheffield United on Sunday as substitute Ahmed Elmohamady forced a 1-1 draw with an 83rd-minute equaliser.
Nevertheless, they will head into Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final showdown with Manchester City knowing their top-flight status is all but mathematically assured having reached 39 points with seven games to play.
Gayle said: “We’ve taken a lot of pressure off ourselves in terms of looking behind us, so now we can go into Sunday’s performance, give it a good go and hopefully we can get the result.”
Meanwhile, Carroll and defender Javier Manquillo have agreed new contracts which will see them remain at the club beyond the end of the current season.
In addition, 20-year-old midfielder Matty Longstaff has agreed a short-term extension to his existing deal, which was due to expire at the end of this month, with the Magpies still attempting to persuade him to commit his future to the club amid interest from Serie A side Udinese.
A statement confirming another 12 months for Carroll, who rejoined his former club on an incentivised deal last summer, and four years for Manquillo, said: “Newcastle United have agreed new contracts with Javier Manquillo and Andy Carroll.
“Former Atletico Madrid defender Manquillo has signed a four-year deal, having become an increasingly important part of Steve Bruce’s team this term, and Carroll, who rejoined his boyhood club last summer, has penned a one-year extension.”
Longstaff, whose longer-term future remains uncertain, joins loan signings Danny Rose and Nabil Bentaleb in extending for the remainder of the campaign, while Inter Milan winger Valentino Lazaro is expected to formally follow suit within days after reaching an agreement in principle with his parent club.
Bruce said: “I’m really pleased that we have been able to put these extensions in place and I’d like to thank the players for committing themselves to the club with some very important games left to play.
“We have been proactive in trying to reach these agreements and they will give us the best chance of finishing the season as strongly as possible.
“I’m delighted Javier Manquillo and Andy Carroll have extended their contracts longer term.
“They have both made important contributions this season and I’m really pleased we can continue to call on them beyond the summer.”
Rob Elliot, Jack Colback and Jamie Sterry will leave the club when their contracts run out on June 30.