Rafa Benitez says Aleksandar Mitrovic is doing everything possible to get himself ready for Newcastle United’s return to the Premier League.
Mitrovic scored in yesterday’s impressive 3-1 win over Bundesliga club Wolfsburg.
Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu also found the net at the AOK Stadion in the club’s penultimate pre-season friendly.
Benitez is looking to bring another striker to St James’s Park in the summer transfer window – and there’s a question mark above Mitrovic’s own future.
But the Serbia international, taken off at the break, could yet have a major role to play in the Premier League this season.
“Mitrovic was working hard – that was the main thing,” said Benitez.
We told him before that he would play 45 minutes, so he has to give everything. He was trying. He had some chances to score a goal.Rafa Benitez
“We told him before that he would play 45 minutes, so he has to give everything. He was trying. He had some chances to score a goal.
“He was there, and that’s what we were expecting. He was pushing and pressing the defenders and creating chances for himself and his team-mates.”
Mitrovic got the goal a minute after being booked for tangling with Wolfsburg goalkeeper Max Grun.
The 22-year-old scored from close range after Atsu crossed from the right.
United are keen on Arsenal striker Lucas Perez, but the club have baulked at the price they have been quoted.
Asked if the club was close to a breakthrough, Benitez said: “We are working on that but it’s not an easy transfer window. We have to wait and see if we can do something.”
Newcastle haven’t given up hope of securing Perez, who is expected to leave Arsenal this summer following the £52million arrival of Alexandre Lacazette.
Meanwhile, United striker Ivan Toney has joined Wigan Athletic on a season-long loan.
The 21-year-old, signed from Northampton Town in 2015, had loan spells at Shrewsbury Town and Scunthorpe United last season.