Dwight Gayle: Newcastle striker happy to lead return to Championship summit
Striker Dwight Gayle says his second Newcastle United hat-trick this season was made more significant by the team's return to the top of the Championship.
Gayle, 26, followed up September's Norwich treble with another against Birmingham as the Magpies climbed above Brighton, who went top by beating Leeds on Friday night.
It took his personal tally to 16 and also ended a three-game winless run.
"It's important to get back to winning ways," Gayle told BBC Newcastle.
"I set myself a target of 20 at the start of the season.
"Scoring is the best thing for me to help the team pick up three points and to go back up to the top of the table is great for us."
Newcastle's attacking threat was exemplified by the running of Gayle and the quality of Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie, particularly from wide areas.
The quartet of goals took Newcastle's total for the season to 41, the highest in the division and third highest overall behind Scunthorpe and Doncaster throughout the top four leagues.
"Playing with the quality we've got it can come from anywhere," Gayle continued.
"It's fantastic to play up front being supplied by the players behind me."
Manager Rafael Benitez has been rewarded for the decision to pay £10m for Gayle, who arrived in the summer from Crystal Palace.
"Dwight is a clever player, if the team plays well he will have chances and score goals," Benitez added. "I'm very pleased for him and the team."