Belfast Telegraph

Warnock sounds Gayle warning

Neil Warnock has offered a stark warning to Dwight Gayle, challenging the out-of-favour striker to fight for his Crystal Palace future.

Eagles boss Warnock claimed Gayle has "disappointed" in training, hinting that the 24-year-old must now prove his worth at Selhurst Park.

Gayle became Palace's £4.5million record signing in July 2013, but has been restricted mainly to substitute cameos under new boss Warnock this term.

Warnock has targeted "two or three" recruits in the January transfer window that could leave both Gayle and Jason Puncheon deemed surplus to requirements.

"He hasn't pushed himself into pole position in training really," said Warnock when quizzed on Gayle's limited starting chances.

"I was disappointed when he came on against Stoke if I'm honest.

"And in training he's not really knocked my door down.

"It's like Wilfried (Zaha) earlier on: they've got to show me what they can do in training, to get back in the team.

"At the moment, the lads who are in the team have got the shirts really, and it's up to others to knock the door down, saying 'I'm doing this well, I should be back in the team', which is not happening."

Gayle is Palace's leading scorer with six goals in 16 appearances in all competitions this term, but now lags behind Marouane Chamakh in the pecking order.

Warnock has admitted he will seek a striker with "more of a physical presence" in January.

Swansea's powerful forward Bafetimbi Gomis is on Warnock's radar, as is the Welsh club's Spanish striker Michu, currently on a season-long loan at Napoli.

Warnock remains loath to alter his 4-2-3-1 formation and hand Gayle an opportunity alongside Chamakh in a two-man attack.

Former Southampton winger Puncheon is another whose starting opportunities have been restricted under Warnock and who has been challenged to fight harder for selection.

Palace converted their sole chance in Saturday's dour 1-1 draw with Stoke, James McArthur heading home Yannick Bolasie's cross before Peter Crouch levelled for the Potters.

Warnock said he will hunt quality additions in January, players to compete for starting berths rather than bolster his squad.

"Everybody knows we'd like two or three players in January," said Warnock.

"It would have been nice to have more of a physical presence to come on against Stoke.

"It's not an easy time to buy in January.

"But I'm optimistic we can get the right ones in as quickly as we can in January, rather than at the end of the window.

"We're talking three or four different areas.

"We have to have some players that are better than what we have.

"It's pointless otherwise: in that situation we might as well go with what we've got.

"I do feel we need two or three players that could come into the first team, and give us more choice rather than sit on the substitutes' bench."

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