By Will Butcher
Youngster Adam Armstrong is in line to be given a chance in the Newcastle first team this month.
Armstrong spent last year on loan at Coventry City in League One, where he scored 20 goals in 40 games, while Newcastle were largely short on goals in the Premier League.
Armstrong has done enough in pre-season to ensure he starts the new campaign as third choice from Benitez’s available strikers with Aleksandar Mitrovic suspended for the first four matches.
Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez are likely to get the nod to lead the attack against Fulham on Friday night.
But there is also a chance that Armstrong will get a run-out at Craven Cottage, the stadium where he made his debut for the Magpies in 2014.
Manager Rafa Benitez told the Evening Chronicle that the 19-year-old is in the running to spearhead Newcastle’s attack as they begin their campaign to return to the Premier League.
“Maybe he will start with us,” Benitez said. “He is training well and he is doing fine.
“We don’t know what will happen, he is a young player who has the potential but I want to be sure to do my best for the team and the best for players.”
Serbian goal-getter Mitrovic is suspended for the first four games of the season after his final-day dismissal against Tottenham.
Academy graduate Armstrong joined Newcastle aged nine and impressed all the way through the youth set-up, before being given his Premier League debut in 2014 as Newcastle’s second youngest player in history.
Back in June, Newcastle legend Alan Shearer called on Benitez to give his young starlet a chance in the first team after impressing on-loan with Coventry.
In other Newcastle team news, outspoken manager Ian Holloway believes this man will bring home the bacon this season.