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Magpies boosted by Gayle's return

Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce says Dwight Gayle’s return from injury has given his side a “welcome boost” ahead of Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace.

United head to Selhurst Park this weekend (3pm kick-off) for a second trip to London in six days, following last Sunday’s defeat at Arsenal.

And Bruce wants to see a response from his side, who have been buoyed by forward Gayle’s return to training after six weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury sustained at Wolves last month.

The former Palace frontman could feature against his old club, while Bruce also confirmed that fellow striker Yoshinori Muto is also available again.

“Dwight has trained all week so he puts himself in contention, and so does Muto,” he said. “Christian Atsu is sick, and we’ve got a slight doubt about Joelinton – he’s got a bit of a sore thigh, but we expect him to be OK.

“I think it’s the first time we’ve had 18 or 19 players training for weeks – we’ve had the academy players up. It’s a welcome boost for everybody.

“We’ve got two or three (coming back) – we think Jonjo (Shelvey) might join in next week, (Emil) Krafth might join in next week and of course we all hope that Andy (Carroll)’s going to be fine in the not too distant future too.”

Newcastle’s injury woes are easing, though Atsu, Ciaran Clark – who will see a specialist this week about the ankle problem he picked up at Arsenal – and Carroll are unavailable.

Bruce hopes the latter will return to fitness in time to play his part during the end-of-season run in, as United approach the final stage of the campaign.

“This time we haven’t put any sort of timescale on it. We’ll just make sure he’s right when he’s right,” he said. “I think with Andy, it’s a good job he’s tough mentally because to deal with it is obviously the biggest problem that any footballer has.

“As I’ve said many times, the big thing for him was that his ankle is OK. It’s one of those freak ones where he’s gone to volley a ball the first time he did it, and the second time he did it he jumped for the ball, so it’s a difficult one.

“But he has to stay strong, and he will do. He’s been like that all his career, and let’s hope he can pull through in the next couple of weeks and still have some part to play towards the back end.”

Palace lie just one point and place behind the 13th-placed Magpies in the table, while next week’s opponents Burnley currently sit just three points ahead of Bruce’s men as United enter an important couple of weeks.

And ex-Eagles boss Bruce wants to see a response from his charges at Selhurst Park as his team go up against a side managed by 72-year-old Roy Hodgson – a manager he says he has the “highest respect” for.

“We’re all big admirers of Roy,” he said. “When you meet him for a cup of tea he still has that enthusiasm like he had when he was probably 43, which is quite unique in itself. He’s a very, very good man and a very, very good coach who’s gone to the highest level, and of course has had the privilege to manage his country as well. We’ve all got the highest respect for him.”

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Steve Bruce's pre-Crystal Palace media briefing in full

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