Aleksandar Mitrovic has cut a frustrated figure this season at St James Park but is hoping that his national team can give him a form of release from the disappointments at Newcastle United.
Getting his chance at last but failing to impress in a run of four matches in Dwight Gayle’s absence in February, Mitrovic hasn’t even managed to get off the bench in the games that followed.
Both Gayle and Daryl Murphy have been preferred to the former Anderlecht forward but now he is counting on Serbia to get him back onto the pitch.
They travel to play Georgia on Friday night in their next qualifier and the last two internationals saw Mitrovic score three goals, two in the 3-2 victory in Austria, as well as the goal that secured a 1-1 draw in Wales.
The Republic of Ireland currently head European Group A with 10 points, then Serbia on 8 and Wales third on 6.
With goals last summer in friendlies against Russia and Cyprus, the Newcastle United number 45 has five goals in his last five international appearances
“We play in a very demanding league (Championship) – a lot of training and a lot of hard work.
“I may not have played in the (recent) games but I have trained hard, I played in a few (previously) but it has not worked out how I wanted it to in those games.
“The last time I played with the international team I was not a regular at my club but I contributed goals (scored the goal that got Serbia a draw in Wales) in the national team and I was ready.
“Playing for my country gives me all the motivation to train well.
“I have Newcastle teammates (Dummett, Clark, Murphy, Elliot) from Wales and Ireland who said that their matches against Georgia have been the most difficult in qualifying.
“They (Georgia) have quality, especially in attack, and can be dangerous if you give them the space…we need to go into the match thinking that we are playing against one of the greats.”