Aleksandar Mitrovic talks his ban, lack of games at Newcastle and firing Serbia to the World Cup

Aleksandar Mitrovic. Picture by Frank Reid
Aleksandar Mitrovic. Picture by Frank Reid

Newcastle United frontman Aleksandar Mitrovic admits he is ready to fire Serbia to World Cup qualification.

The Serbs, four points clear at the top of Group D, look nailed on to qualify for next summer’s finals in Russia and are already assured of at least a place in the play-offs.

Ahead of tonight’s match against Austria at Vienna’s Ernst-Happel-Stadion, in which they could conceivably qualify automatically with a loss, Mitrovic admits he is ready both physically and mentally for the challenge.

That is despite barely kicking a ball for United in the Premier League this season, due in the most part to his own misdemeanour, after receiving a three-game ban for a needless elbow on West Ham United’s Manuel Lanzini.

Ahead of tonight’s clash, Mitrovic, likely to lead the line for his country, said: “I am ready physically and mentally and I can’t wait for the match in Vienna.

“We enter the game against Austria with the desire to win.

“We know where we stand and, while we can see the euphoria, we will not allow it to affect the game in Vienna.

“It would be good to secure the World Cup place following this match.

“As the games have gone along, we have got better and we are full of confidence.”

That Hammers incident put the blockers on a relative resurgence of Mitrovic at United. The striker looked set to leave the club this summer, but, despite some interest, no offer was received by United getting even close to what they were looking for.

And, having started the season out of the picture, he shone in the League Cup loss to Nottingham Forest, then again off the bench against Slaven Bilic’s men.

Mitrovic denied there was any intent in the incident at the time.

Opening up to the Serbian press about the issue, he said: “I was punished for three games and the team did not play badly during this time, so I stayed on the sidelines.

“That was the decision of the coach.”

Goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic added: “Mitro didn’t play because he was naughty!”