Having lost leading goal-scorer Dwight Gayle to injury during the victory over Brentford F.C. on Saturday, Newcastle are somewhat facing an offensive selection crisis.
The Magpies have already lost Aleksandar Mitrović to an injury picked up in the FA Cup fixture against Birmingham City. Rafa Benitez is now faced with the prospect of having just the one first-team striker available for selection for the upcoming fixtures, which sees United play four successive home games in 17 days.
In almost every fixture this season, from the outset, the manager has proved to vastly prefer a one-forward formation, and for the majority of these fixtures, Gayle has been the man to get the nod, justifying it with a 20-goal haul thus far, Mitrović filling in when called upon has netted five.
For this reason, the manager felt it necessary to loan out young strikers Adam Armstrong and Ivan Toney as there was little chance they would ever be called upon, allowing them to continue their development in a first team environment elsewhere.
The three forwards that Benitez retained were the aforementioned Gayle and Mitrović and new summer recruit Daryl Murphy. It now looks extremely likely that Murphy will have to shoulder the goal-scoring burden of the team now that the other players in his position are missing.
The Newcastle faithful have so far seen very little of the Irish international, either due to the good form of both Gayle and Mitrović or because of injury. However, after scoring the winner in Saturday’s game, having came off the bench to replace the injured Gayle, Murphy is now the club’s number one fit and available striker, barring any injuries this coming week, or, big-name recruitments, seeing that the transfer window is still open.
More from Analysis
- Newcastle United 1-0 Brentford: 3 Catalyst Players Who Were Key To The Result
- Newcastle United 1-0 Brentford: 3 things Eddie Howe learned from the match
- Newcastle player ratings vs Brentford: Harvey Barnes impresses
- Elliot Anderson receives high praise after Sunday’s perfomance
- Anthony Gordon finds success on Englands U-21 team
The 33-year old is no stranger to Championship football, and is a very capable goal-scorer at this level. Arguably, he is the most complete striker in the squad, possessing the target man aerial prowess and tactical nous of Mitrović and the goal-scoring touch of Gayle – remember he has scored two goals with limited minutes on the pitch as well as netting in his only appearance for the U23 squad this season.
Some of the fans may be concerned that without Gayle and Mitrović, the team’s recent patchy form may continue, however I feel personally that there is nothing to worry about with Murphy leading the line. As long as the team can create the chances – baring in mind the return of Jonjo Shelvey – then a striker who is as good mentally as he is technically will certainly be able to hoover up chances provided he is given the full backing of his teammates as well as from those in the stands.
There has been no bigger chance for Murphy this season than the one in front of him right now, and who knows, if he proves he can provide just as much as his fellow strikers in the squad we may not see Gayle or Mitrović return immediately to the starting line-up.