Newcastle United briefing: Serbia coach weighs into Aleksandar Mitrovic debate, injury boost for Rafa Benitez

Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic

Aleksandar Mitrovic will go head-to-head with Newcastle United team-mate Ciaran Clark tonight.

The pair are set to face each other in the World Cup qualifier between Serbia and the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Serbia's coach has had his say on Mitrovic at Newcastle ahead of the game.

Also, midfielder Mikel Merino has revealed Rafa Benitez's message to United's players.

Here's your daily briefing:

Home comforts?

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

Serbia coach Slavoljub Muslin has a theory about Mitrovic at Newcastle.

United manager Benitez used the striker sparingly in the Championship last season.

Yet the 22-year-old – who will miss the club's next three games through suspension – has a phenomenal scoring record for his country.

Muslin said: "Maybe the system we play with three attackers suits him better.

"Perhaps the coach in Newcastle doesn’t have as much confidence in him as I do. He is our first centre-forward. Perhaps he feels more comfortable playing for the national team than he does for his own club."

Keep the faith

Loan signing Merino, meanwhile, has revealed Benitez's simple message to his Newcastle players.

“Rafa says to us to keep the faith, and we believe in his words,” said Merino, who’s set play for Spain’s Under-21s against Estonia in a European Championship qualifier in Tallinn tonight.

“So what we have to keep doing is keep trying hard, keep playing, and the main thing is to keep doing good things and if we do it then we know good things will come."

Merino impressed in the club's 3-0 win over West Ham United late last month.

And finally...

Benitez is set to welcome back two key players for Sunday's Premier League game against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.