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 3-1 friendly win over Bundesliga club Wolfsburg.
Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu also found the net at the AOK Stadion in the Magpies’ 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 Serbian, 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. 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.
It was 2-0 when Ritchie’s left-footed free-kick flew past him and into the top right-hand corner of the net.
Yunus Malli, brought down by Paul Dummett, pulled a goal back for Wolfsburg from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute.
But the Magpies broke upfield and scored a third. Jonjo Shelvey was set free by a clever ball upfield from an increasingly-confident Manquillo, and he broke into the box and crossed for Atsu, who bundled the ball over the line.
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.”
Full-back DeAndre Yedlin will be out for up to three weeks with the hamstring injury sustained in last weekend’s defeat to Mainz.
Newcastle: Elliot (Darlow 70), Manquillo (Mbemba 70), Lejeune (Lascelles 70), Clark, Dummett (Gamez 70), Ritchie (Murphy 70), Shelvey, Hayden (Merino 70), Atsu (Aarons 70), Perez (de Jong 70), Mitrovic (Diame 46). Subs not used: Colback, Gayle. Goals: Mitrovic 37, Ritchie 43, Atsu 68 Booking: Mitrovic 36. Att: 3,011