Why Steve McClaren is banking on Aleksandar Mitrovic to fire Newcastle up the league

Newcastle United players celebrate victory after the final whistle during the Barclays Premier League match at White Hart Lane, London
Newcastle United players celebrate victory after the final whistle during the Barclays Premier League match at White Hart Lane, London

Aleksandar Mitrovic will be in from the cold against Everton.

And Steve McClaren is hoping for a hot streak in front of goal from the Serbian striker.

Papiss Cisse has been leading the line for Newcastle United during their recent three-game unbeaten spell.

But the striker is expected to miss the visit of Roberto Martinez’s Everton side on Boxing Day with a groin injury, amid fears he could miss the entire festive season.

Mitrovic - who replaced Cisse after 33 minutes in the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa - is set to lead the line.

McClaren has challenged refreshed Mitrovic to add to his tally of three goals, adding he has all the ingredients to be a top striker.

And the club’s head coach wants to see him start to “pull it all together” quickly and make a big impact for a Newcastle side battling relegation.

“[Mitro] needed to come out for a few games,” said McClaren.

“He’s done that now and has his focus and energy and intensity back.

“He has shown that in the last two games.

“He has bullied defenders – he did that against Chelsea.

“That’s what we want from him.

“He needs to hold that emotion and control it, but we should never take the aggression out of his game.

“There are a lot of things he has to work on and get right.

“He’s got talent and all the ingredients, he just needs to pull it all together.

“We’re hoping he can make an impact this season, the quicker the better.

“He’s been boosted by the goal he got at Spurs.

“You don’t know with young players, we’re just hoping he has those spells where he is very effective.

“He needs to score more goals, yes, but he was bought as a development and someone with potential, and that’s how he’s playing at the moment.”

McClaren believes Mitrovic can learn from Romelu Lukaku - one of the Premier League’s inform strikers with goals in eight consecutive games, the first Toffees player to do so since 1954.

The Belgian will have one eye on Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy’s record of netting in 11 top flight games in a row.

Stopping him is a big ask for Newcastle’s defensive duo Fabricio Coloccini and Chancel Mbemba.

And their manager is fully aware of the threat posed by Lukaku.

McClaren said: “He is a top striker.

“I remember watching him when he was at Anderlecht for Twente in a winter friendly, he was about 16 or 17 and he was a player then.

“He’s done well since leaving Chelsea, a long way to go but he’s certainly a handful who scores goals in a good team.

“I remember Lukaku when he was a young lad and he was the same size he is now - he’s very effective.

“He’s had quite a journey via a few loans.

“He’s had to develop and now he’s looking like a real deal, the complete centre-forward.

“Mitro is developing and is a few years behind.

“But Mitro has his own game.”

Going into the game, Newcastle are 17th, a place and two points above the bottom three.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United have recalled Ivan Toney from his loan spell at Barnsley to help provide cover during Cisse’s absence.

The 19-year-old returns after scoring twice in eight appearances for the Tykes and is expected to be on the bench against 10-placed Everton.