Rafa Benitez’s response when asked if Aleksandar Mitrovic will face Preston

Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic

Aleksandar Mitrovic is set for a rare start for Newcastle United tonight.

The striker has started only two games so far this season.

He (Mitrovic) is training well, and hopefully he will play well if he’s playing.

Rafa Benitez

But United manager Rafa Benitez is ready to name Mitrovic in his starting XI for the club’s fourth-round EFL Cup tie against Preston North End.

Mitrovic came off the bench against Ipswich Town at the weekend.

And the 22-year-old is desperate to play in the home tie.

Asked if Mitrovic would make his team, Benitez said: “We have some players who are not playing, and they will be really pleased if they get another chance.

“He (Mitrovic) is training well, and hopefully he will play well if he’s playing.”

Benitez, still without striker Daryl Murphy and defender Jesus Gamez, will make a number of changes for the game, which comes four days before Championship fixture against Preston at Deepdale.

However, the Spaniard does NOT think it will be a weakened team.

“If you have a good squad, it’s because we are working with all of them,” said Benitez.

“We are trying to improve every single player we have in the squad, whether they are playing or not.

“We are working with Gayle – he is scoring goals. But at the same time, if Murphy is available we will be working with him too.

“We try to improve Mitrovic, because maybe he’ll play in the next game and be important.

“If you have this attitude, you have a squad where it doesn’t feel as if you pick a weak team. Everyone is ready to play.”