Benitez says this Newcastle United player is justifying his price-tag

Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez

Newcastle United returned to the top of the Championship table following their convincing win today.

The Magpies ran out comfortable 4-0 winners against Birmingham City at St James' Park today with Dwight Gayle's superb hat-trick stealing the show, and Rafa Benitez offered high praise for the 26-year-old hitman, declaring that he is fully justifying his hefty price-tag, as quoted by the Chronicle.

The former Crystal Palace striker has now scored 16 goals in as many Championship games for the Tyneside outfit, since making his £10 million move to St James' Park in the summer.

Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring their first goalNewcastle United's Dwight Gayle celebrates 

And speaking to reporters during his post-match press conference, Benitez hailed his striker after his fine performance, as quoted by the Chronicle:

“I knew that he would score goals, I didn’t know how many. Now I can see he will score a lot but I don’t want to say a figure. Hopefully he can score goals in every game. He is a great finisher, he has good movement and he can make the difference."

Benitez' men are now back on top of the pile, and hold a one point advantage over second-placed Brighton & Hove Albion, but more importantly, a six point advantage on third-placed Reading.

Newcastle United Manager Rafael BenitezNewcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez

Newcastle now face an extremely kind run of fixtures over the Christmas period and on into the new year.

The average league position of their next five opponents is 17th, and what a fantastic opportunity that represents for the Magpies to reel off a run of victories and stretch their lead at the top of the table.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch