Neil Warnock must build his team around this Crystal Palace striker

Neil Warnock must build his team around Dwight Gayle, after taking charge of Crystal Palace today.

Following his appointment as Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock must make Dwight Gayle his main man at Selhurst Park.

Gayle’s career has been on a serious upward trajectory, but the only things stopping his incessant rise to the top is Palace’s reluctance to utilise him.

The 23-year-old striker was brought in by Ian Holloway for an eye-catching £6 million in a move which seemed to cap off his success, but the signs have been that his story could just be beginning.

It was only three years ago that Gayle was plying his trade for Stansted FC but, via moves to Dagenham and Redbridge and Peterborough United, he has now played a major part in one of the most thrilling title races in Premier League history.

The inexperienced front-man was thrown on by Palace against Liverpool last season, when the side were 3-0 down, but his introduction stopped the Reds winning the match and ended their title hopes.

The Eagles managed to come back in a pulsating close to the match, with Gayle scoring twice, in one of the most memorable clashes of the last campaign.

It was still not enough to convince Tony Pulis to use him regularly, though, and as a result his career is in danger of stagnating.

Although it is hard to criticise the job Pulis did at Palace, as it was nothing short of sensational, his reluctance to use Gayle was staggering.

Just looking at his goal-scoring record, he had a better minutes-to-goal ratio than a host of household names in England.

Of all the players who played over 800 minutes in the top flight last season, only the prodigiously talented quartet of Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Edin Dzeko had a better strike-rate than Gayle.

  TeamPosmins / GoalsAppsMins
Sergio Agüero Man City FW 90.53 23 1,539
Luis Suarez Liverpool FW 95.61 33 2,964
Daniel Sturridge Liverpool FW 108.33 29 2,275
Edin Dzeko Man City FW 124.44 31 1,991
Dwight Gayle Crystal Palace FW 126.00 23 882
Robin van Persie Man Utd FW 132.00 21 1,584
Carlton Cole West Ham FW 140.83 26 845
Wayne Rooney Man Utd FW 144.00 29 2,448
Samuel Eto'o Chelsea FW 145.11 21 1,306
Yaya Touré Man City MF 146.35 35 2,927
Lukas Podolski Arsenal FW 146.50 20 1,172
Loïc Remy Newcastle FW 150.21 26 2,103
Wilfried Bony Swansea FW 154.50 34 2,472

Indeed, the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, WIlfried Bony and Samuel Eto’o were left struggling to keep up with the regularity that Palace’s jet-heeled attacker managed to hit the back of the net and that proves his quality.

Neil Warnock should now use him as the man to build this side around.

A high-scoring striker is often the difference between relegation and survival and in Gayle, Palace have a hidden gem. They just need to put him on display.

His hat-trick against Walsall last night should be further encouragement that he can perform a key role for them at the top level and to keep holding back a forward who is ready to burst onto the scene seems baffling – regardless of his lack of games in professional football.

Gayle possesses all the skills to make him a lethal weapon at any level.

He can bludgeon his way through defences and his pace and power make a potent concoction of skills at any level.

In Gayle, Warnock has a ready-made man to make his stay a success, something which he can boast over Pulis; but he must use him.

The only thing stopping Gayle’s inexorable rise from Stansted taking off is Palace and they must take the shackles off their hidden weapon and unleash him under their new boss.

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