Aleksandar Mitrovic says he ‘knew my chance would come one time this season’ and Dwight Gayle’s absence leaves him with exactly that.
Whilst there is a small chance that Rafa Benitez could bring in Daryl Murphy tonight, it is far more likely that Mitrovic will get the opportunity to show he is a far better player than we saw on the pitch against Bristol City on Saturday.
Rafa is being very cagey with what he says about Dwight Gayle’s injury, telling the likes of Chris Hughton that he might be available but then saying on the eve of this Brighton game that he isn’t quite there.
Hamstring injuries are very hard to manage and knowing exactly when it is time to take the calculated risk of playing once again, in the meantime Rafa obviously wants to keep the opposition guessing – whatever the reality of how close Gayle really is to coming back.
These next three matches are the perfect point for a Mitrovic relaunch, success away against three promotion rivals would see the Serbian reclaiming that hero mantle which he undoubtedly would love to have.
He retains great affection from the crowd but he could be something really special if he got his performances up to the level of the acclaim he gets from so many fans.
Mitrovic says that ‘last season I did stupid things but this year I am more calm’.
Nobody wants to see the stupidity of the Arsenal or Tottenham red cards but maybe he does need to bring out that devil in him once again that saw a respectable nine goals in his debut Premier League season from only 22 starts (plus 12 from the bench).
It is actually a bit of a myth that he was that stupid overall last season, in his first four PL appearances Mitrovic picked up two yellows and a red but then in the next 29 he only got two more bookings and no reds, until his 34th Premier League game brought that very stupid red in the nothing game against Tottenham.
This time around the number 45 has scored four goals and picked up three yellow cards (no reds) in his 19 Championship appearances (8 starts, 11 as a sub).
Nobody will mind if he ‘stupidly’ adds a few more yellow if it means we get the kind of forward who showed real promise at times last season.
This is his big moment at Newcastle and if Mitrovic doesn’t grasp it in Gayle’s absence, it is difficult to see any long-term future for the former Anderlecht player at St James Park.
Aleksandar Mitrovic talking to Sky Sports:
“I think now I am different because this season I am more calm on the pitch.
“I was aggressive and was sent off last season.
“Last season I did stupid things but this year I am more calm.
“I knew my chance would come one time this season.
“The chance has come now so I will try to use it.
“I was part of that team which were relegated last year, so I feel responsible to try to fix this.
“I am not the guy who makes mistakes and runs.
“I will try to fix it and help the team to get back to the Premier League, where we should be.
“Goals are something I want.
“I hope I will score goals in the next few games, important goals, then I will be happy.”