Aleksandar Mitrovic is enjoying an interesting start to the season.
The former Anderlecht striker has scored twice for Newcastle picked up a three match ban, plus stayed at St James Park beyond the transfer window deadline.
Newcastle fans won’t now see Mitrovic until October but the Serbian football public are certainly enjoying seeing him in action.
On Saturday, Mitro scored his eighth goal (watch it below) in his last eight international games, helping Serbia beat Moldova 3-0 and go clear at the top of Group D.
Elsewhere, the Republic of Ireland had Ciaran Clark playing the full game and Rob Elliot on the bench, with former striker Daryl Murphy getting the last 11 minutes as a sub. They took an early lead in Georgia but ended the match with a disappointing draw. Wales managing a narrow but vital 1-0 win over Austria, leaving the group looking like this.
Group D table now looks like this:
15 Serbia (GD +9) – Played 7
13 R. of Ireland (+4) – Played 7
11 Wales (+5) – Played 7
8 Austria (0) – Played 7
4 Georgia (-4) – Played 7
2 Moldova (-14) – Played 7
On Tuesday night it is the big one, when Serbia travel to play the Republic of Ireland – a game that could decide the group winners.
Only the top team in each group automatically goes through, with the best eight runners-up in the nine European groups being drawn in play-offs with four winners of those games also qualifying for Russia next year.
If Mitrovic and his team win, then it more or less guarantees them as qualifiers, with the Republic of Ireland and Wales fighting it out over the play-off spot.
Mitro says he will ‘enjoy that challenge’ when he comes up against club teammate Ciaran Clark and as some Newcastle fans have commented, hopefully there will be no more injuries for Rafa Benitez to worry about after the game!
“It may be the case that I’ll be marked by Ciaran (Clark) and I will enjoy that challenge.
“I will also get to see a former colleague, Daryl Murphy, but the focus will totally be on beating Ireland.
“We know that Ireland will come out fighting and will have a full house in Dublin supporting them.
“This will be a much harder test than Moldova but we deserve to be in first place and want to stay there. We are not even thinking about slipping to second and settling for a play-off spot at this point.
“Our Serbian team is in a good place right now.
“We have not qualified for a major tournament since 2010 but this team needed to grow – now we see the good work resulting in our top position.”
— NUFCThreatLevel (@NUFCThreatLevel) September 2, 2017