With 14 Championship matches gone and only one start, you really had to feel that the writing was on the wall for Aleksandar Mitrovic.
That sole start at QPR saw a goal, decent all round performance by the striker and a 6-0 win for the team, yet still not another chance since.
Rafa Benitez has made clear that he sees his ideal formation having only one out and out striker, either Gayle or Mitrovic, with the likes of Perez or Diame in behind as a second striker/attacking midfielder.
With Dwight Gayle in explosive form and top scorer in the Championship with 11 goals, that leaves no space for Aleksandar Mitrovic.
As in so many of these cases though, injuries do tend to come along and offer surprise opportunities.
Mitrovic looks certain to get his chance today at Preston as Gayle has a hamstring injury, something Rafa describes as a ‘little problem’.
Little or not, things could be taking an even better turn for the former Anderlecht striker.
He will get a chance today and then will surely get another next weekend as well when Newcastle host Cardiff. Unless he feels he has no option, I can’t see any way that Rafa Benitez will risk Dwight Gayle next Saturday, not when there is then a 15 day break thanks to more international matches.
Hamstring injuries are especially dodgy in terms of risking them and making the situation worse, so Rafa can give Gayle a 3 weeks+ break to make sure he is 100% right for Leeds United on Sunday 20 November.
Ahead of today’s match, Aleksandar Mitrovic has given a typically passionate, endearing and entertaining interview, nobody can be in ay doubt that he wants to be here and do well for the club.
If the striker’s actions on the pitch match his words, Rafa Benitez could have an interesting dilemma by the time we are heading to Elland Road.
Aleksandar Mitrovic talking to the Telegraph:
“Newcastle have been my favourite club ever since I was small boy in Serbia. I have followed Newcastle my whole life. I had two Newcastle shirts when I was little. It was unusual, most people choose a team like Manchester United or Barcelona, but for me it has always been Newcastle.
“They played against Partizan Belgrade (Champions League – August 2003) when I was small (Mitrovic was 8 years old). There was something I really liked – the passion, the relationship between the fans and the players. You could feel it on the TV, you could see it was something different.
“Even when big clubs came here, they were afraid of this crowd. I was a Partizan fan and they play in the same colours, black and white stripes. I fell in love with them then. I loved the passion. Of course, I’m happy to be here. It feels like I have come home. This is my home. Newcastle are my club, my team. They are like Partizan to me.
“It is really amazing to be here and have so much love. It makes me feel so grateful, it is amazing. I hope I will be here for the next 10 or 15 years.
“I will spend my entire career here, no problem. As long as they want me, I will be here. I’m happy, my family is happy, my son, Luka, is happy growing up here. He will grow up a Geordie.”
“My father said I would be a criminal or a kick boxer… I don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t play football.
“Maybe something where I can use my adrenalin, maybe something like boxing.
“I had a lot of energy when I was a child. I was difficult for my parents. I can see me in my boy now as well. I know how hard it must have been for my parents. My mum always said ‘You will see’, and now I see it.”