Rafa Benitez says that he was really pleased to see Aleksandar Mitrovic score twice for Serbia against Austria and ‘for us it’s really important’.
However, he also makes clear that anybody who then thinks that he will automatically play against Brentford, is wide of the mark, as Rafa says it simply means that he is pleased with a Newcastle striker scoring goals.
Expanding on that, the United boss says that for Mitrovic to be in contention for a place in his Championship team, the former Anderlecht striker has to score goals when he can AND work hard in training and matches.
Rafa says he has spoken to Aleksandar Mitrovic after his goals and admits that it has been more difficult for the Serbian this season, with him suspended for the opening four Championship games, meaning it was the 27 August before he could be considered for a league start.
However, the Mitrovic luck took a further nosedive when he was then forced to miss that Brighton home game as well, meaning it was 10 September before he could potentially make a Championship start.
The striker didn’t start that game but he actually did start the second Championship match he was eligible for, scoring and playing pretty well in the 6-0 win at QPR.
Rafa says he was ‘pleased’ with Mitrovic that day but despite that, he hasn’t made the next four league starting elevens, although decent substitute appearance in the last two matches against Norwich and Rotherham shouldn’t have done him any harm.
In our poll today, 74% of the thousands of fans voting, would choose Mitrovic to start with Gayle tomorrow against Brentford.
After two wins in a row it will be interesting to see just how many changes Rafa does make.
“I was watching the reaction and watching the game (Serbia v Austria) and the (Mitrovic) goals.
“I was talking with him, so I’m really pleased for a striker to score goals – it is always positive and for us it’s always really important.
“Some people will say ‘that means that he will play’ but what it means is that I am pleased with him scoring goals and I am pleased with him working hard, which is what he has to do.
“We had a very good chat the other day and he is really focussed. I think he knows that it’s really important to keep working hard and then if he has a chance, to take his chance.”
“Because he was suspended (for first four Championship games) at the beginning, he couldn’t play. It’s been more difficult for him.
“But I was really pleased with him against Queens Park Rangers and the way that he is training is fine.
“Especially after this international break – he has scored these two goals and I think he is more settled down, focused and relaxed in terms of what he has to do. I am confident that he will do it well.
“We have to concentrate on the next game. Brentford are a good team, they are doing well, they are scoring goals and they aren’t conceding too many.
“Hopefully we can play at the level we can play, and we can do well, win and enjoy two days more, because after we have another game (on Tuesday v Barnsley).
“I think that they play well on the counter attack but they also score goals. They defend well, they counter attack, they play well, they pass the ball – they’re a good team.
“Hopefully we can attack and be on top of them all the time and then created chances in this way. But I don’t see them playing so deep that they will not cope, or will not create chances.”