Rafa Benitez mulls over a recall for Newcastle's Aleksandar Mitrovic at QPR
Aleksandar Mitrovic could finally get his Championship chance at Loftus Road.
Mitrovic is yet to play a minute of football in the division.
But Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez is considering fielding him against Queens Park Rangers.
Mitrovic missed the first four games of the season through suspension.
And the 21-year-old suffered a concussion on his comeback in the club’s EFL Cup win over Cheltenham Town last month.
Mitrovic was an unused substitute for Saturday’s 2-0 win over Derby County at the iPro Stadium.
Asked if the Serbia international could get a chance against QPR, Benitez said: “It could be.
“We were disappointed to lose Mitrovic at the start of the season, but he has trained well.
“Then he was with the national team, and you can see he still needed a bit of match fitness.
“It’s the same, if you don’t play, you don’t have match fitness. You have to play them to get that.
“It’s more difficult though to play them without match fitness. He is training well.
Newcastle signed Daryl Murphy from Ipswich Town late last month to compete with Mitrovic.
And the 33-year-old – who didn’t travel to Derby – could make the bench at Loftus Road.
Benitez took a 20 players to London for the game, and he will decide his team and bench in the hours before kick-off time.
“We have good competition,” said Benitez, whose side are second in the Championship after six games.
“Murphy is training well, (Dwight) Gayle is doing well, Ayoze (Perez) was doing well as a striker.
“I am pleased for me to have this competition, and for them they have to realise it is a long season and they have carry on training hard, pushing to put me in a difficult position.
“All of them are ready to play. Ayoze was doing well and then I didn’t play him so he is desperate to play, Murphy is desperate to play.
“That is really positive. Gayle will expect to play too, because he is scoring goals.
“All of them expect to play every game.
“They have realise we want to be at the top of the table at the end of the season, so we have to manage the squad until the end of the season.”
Meanwhile, Derby manager Nigel Pearson suggested at the weekend that Benitez will need to manage expectations both in his dressing room and on Tyneside.
And Benitez is keen to guard against complacency after four successive wins.
“We have to keep sending the right message and the message is we have done nothing,” he said.
“We need to keep working hard and keep focused for every game.
“We know that you can lose at any time.
“The other day I was watching Aston Villa, they were losing, winning and then they draw.
“Everything can change in one minute. The Championship is so difficult, and you have to be sure you keep your players on their toes until the end of the season.
“We have brought some experienced players in, so now I think we have enough experience, young players and talent, we have a good mix.
“The only thing is to tell the players every day and in ever sessions, tell the fans through Press conferences, that we have to keep going.
“The fans have to enjoy it, but at the same time we have to make sure as professionals and that we are concentrated and we keep working hard.”
Newcastle were backed by 3,200 fans at the iPro Stadium.
The club’s travelling fans celebrated in the away end long after the final whistle.
And Benitez enjoyed the moment before reminding his players of the importance of the club’s next game.
Asked if he enjoyed the euphoria of such a win, he said: “Yes, 100%. After every good training session and every win, I am really pleased and happy.
“At the same time I have a responsibility to prepare the team for the next game.
“When you play so many games in a short time, you have to be ready.
“I went in and said congratulations and well done (after the Derby game).
“Before the game they were focused, and after the game everyone was smiling and laughing.
“I told them to enjoy it and then during the training session we have to focus on the next game.”
Newcastle have sold the club’s 2,700-seat allocation for the QPR match.