Gary Rowett suggests what he thought of Newcastle's Dwight Gayle when he saw him four years ago

Birmingham manager Gary Rowett

It is safe to say that the Birmingham boss was less than convinced when he saw the now-Newcastle striker several years ago.

Gary Rowett has suggested that he would never have expected Dwight Gayle to be doing so well in the Championship with Newcastle United when he got his first glimpse of the striker up close four years ago, the Shields Gazette reports.

Gayle was instrumental in ending the Magpies' short run without a win as he scored a hat-trick against Rowett's Birmingham City at the weekend to help Rafael Benitez's men to a 4-0 victory that saw them move back to the top of the table after a recent blip.

Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle scores their first goalNewcastle United's Dwight Gayle scores their first goal against Birmingham

The 26-year-old has been sensational since his summer switch to St James' Park, scoring 16 times in 16 league games to top the division's goalscoring charts. 

And speaking after the game, Rowett suggested that having watched the forward during his time in the lower leagues, his rise through the divisions has come as something of a surprise, but insisted that the former Crystal Palace man has clearly deserved the opportunity.

"He is a Premier League-class striker, but five or six years ago when he was playing Bishop's Stortford he wasn't," he said, as reported by the Shields Gazette. "He has shown incredible hunger to get better.

"We played against him for Burton against Dagenham and Redbridge, and at the time I probably couldn't have seen him scoring a hat-trick against a team of mine in the Championship.

Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring their first goal

"But that's what desire and drive does to you. His movement is really good. He is an intelligent footballer."

While Rowett suggests that Gayle's performance several years ago did little to suggest what was to come, the striker did provide an indication - assuming that the match in question was the 3-2 victory for Burton in November 2012 - of what he could be capable of.

It was Gayle who opened the scoring on that day with his third in two games. And while Rowett's men would ultimately come out on top on that day, the striker ensured that this time, it was his side that took the spoils.

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch