Aleksandar Mitrovic is set to give injury-hit Rafa Benitez a big lift – by declaring himself fit for the next round of the FA Cup, writes Miles Starforth.
Mitrovic suffered a deep cut on his leg in Newcastle United’s third-round tie against Birmingham City at St Andrew’s earlier this month.
He is doing well. He has no stitches now. He can bend the knee. I’m quite positive. You see him walking now, he is fine.Rafa Benitez
Benitez also lost leading scorer Dwight Gayle to a hamstring problem in last weekend’s Championship win over Brentford.
And Gayle’s injury left Benitez with just one fit senior striker – Daryl Murphy.
But Mitrovic is set to be available for the club’s fourth-round tie away to Oxford United on January 28.
Asked about Mitrovic’s likely return, United manager Benitez said: “I’m quite optimistic.
“He is doing well. He has no stitches now. He can bend the knee.
“I’m quite positive. You see him walking now, he is fine.
“For Mitro, next week is not too early for him. We will see. It’s not a massive injury.”
Benitez, however, is not putting a precise timescale on the return of Gayle, though he hopes to have the 20-goal striker back next month.
“I don’t have the timescale, but he’s doing well, improving every day,” said Benitez.
“Mitro is a different thing, he will be sooner than Gayle.”