Rafa Benitez gives his verdict on Newcastle’s Aleksandar Mitrovic

Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic

Rafa Benitez says he’s been encouraged by Aleksandar Mitrovic’s performance at Carrow Road – despite his missed chances.

Mitrovic led the line in Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw against Norwich City.

I’m happy with the way he was playing. His contribution was quite good, and Ayoze was the same.

Rafa Benitez

Ayoze Perez and Jamaal Lascelles scored at Carrow Road as Benitez’s side maintained their one-point advantage at the top of the Championship.

Mitrovic – who scored the club’s winning goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux last weekend – struck the post in the game and missed another opportunity to score.

But United manager Benitez, likely to recall fit-again Dwight Gayle to his starting against Aston Villa on Monday night, felt he had a good game overall.

“I’m happy with the way he was playing,” said Benitez.

“His contribution was quite good, and Ayoze was the same and a lot of players when they came on the pitch, like (Mohamed) Diame and (Christian) Atsu. That is very positive.”

The Villa game was switched to Monday night so it could be broadcast live.

And Benitez feels his players will benefit from the extended break between fixtures after a demanding few weeks.

However, Vurnon Anita – who suffered ankle ligament damage in last month’s win over Brentford – is still some way of a comeback.

“It’s always important when you have time,” said Benitez. “We have some days (to rest).

“It’s too soon for Anita, but he will be closer.”

Benitez will not take in a game this Championship weekend, and instead focus his energies on his team’s preparations for the Villa fixture.

“It’s not a big difference,” he said. “You have your scouts watching live games.

“It’s not important for me, especially as you don’t have time as you are travelling.”

Benitez and his staff are watching games on a daily basis to scout the opposition and potential summer transfer targets.

“We’re watching games every week,” he said.

“Now with the technology, you have access to everything.

“The staff and the scouts are watching games. We are watching games all the time.”