Rafa Benitez on Aleksandar Mitrovic’s ‘apology’ to his Newcastle team-mates

Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic

Aleksandar Mitrovic apologised to his team-mates after Newcastle United’s FA Cup exit.

Mitrovic had a penalty saved and also missed two good chances in the club’s 3-0 fourth-round defeat to Oxford United.

He had the chances – he knows – and he apologised to his team-mates, the fans and to everyone.

Rafa Benitez

The striker had returned from a badly gashed leg in the game at the Kassam Stadium.

Mitrovic came under fire from fans after the tie, and Newcastle manager Benitez feels he will “prove” his quality in the coming weeks and months.

Asked about Mitrovic’s performance against Oxford, Benitez said: “When you have been 10 days without training with the team, then you come back and you have some chances, you cannot blame him too much for that.

“He had the chances – he knows – and he apologised to his team-mates, the fans and to everyone.

“He did not take them, but he has to keep working hard and try to make sure he does the next time.

“When you do but the only way to change things is to go on the pitch and do better.

“He needs to go out and prove he can do it.

“Mitrovic is someone who I think trains and he likes the challenge.”

Benitez is likely to recall Daryl Murphy – who has scored three goals in games – to his starting XI for tonight’s Championship home game against Queens Park Rangers.

Newcastle beat QPR 6-0 at Loftus Road in September.

Asked if that was the club’s best performance of the season so far, Benitez said: “If we put everything together, then possibly.

“But then to beat Norwich (4-3) in the last minute was massive. We have had some good games, both home and away.

“But, because we controlled that game so much and had so much control, we scored six goals and we did not concede so we have to put that in there.”

On United’s injured players, Benitez added: “Rolando (Aarons) is doing well.

“Dwight Gayle is also improving, and so is (Vurnon) Anita.

“Sometimes you say they are improving, but in this case they are doing well.”