Rafa Benitez reveals why he recalled Aleksandar Mitrovic to his Newcastle starting XI

Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic

Rafa Benitez has revealed why he recalled Aleksandar Mitrovic to his starting XI.

Mitrovic led the line in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Derby County.

They can be part of the history if we are promoted and if we do well. They have to compete between themselves and this competition has been key in the first part of the season.

Rafa Benitez

In-form Daryl Murphy – who had played against Queens Park Rangers in midweek – dropped to the bench for the Championship game.

United manager Benitez – who hopes to have 20-goal striker Dwight Gayle back for Saturday’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers – has explained his decision.

“It’s something that we said,” said Benitez, who was “disappointed” at the club’s failure to strengthen in last month’s transfer window.

“The players that we will have until the end of the season are these players.

“They can be part of the history if we are promoted and if we do well. They have to compete between themselves and this competition has been key in the first part of the season.

“It will be the same now. If you play Murphy, if you play Mitrovic or if you play another one, it doesn’t matter.

“The support of the fans has to be for them, and then the players have to compete between themselves.”

Mitrovic – who hasn’t scored since the October 29 win over Preston North End – scuffed a second-half chance.

“You could say the goal was open, but he was turning and it was hard,” said Benitez.

“The main thing for me is that you have chances. If you create chances, you will take them, sometimes more than we did today.”

Gayle is close to a return from the hamstring problem he suffered in last month’s win over Brentford.

And the 26-year-old could be available to face Wolves at Molineux.

“The competition will help the players to improve,” said Benitez. “If he’s available, I have one extra player, and one that was scoring goals.

“But it doesn’t matter if we create a lot of them.

“The main thing is that the team is winning.”