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Benitez hints at senior star's return ahead of match v Cheltenham

By Harvey Byrne

Rafa Benitez has hinted that Aleksandar Mitrovic could feature in Newcastle’s Tuesday evening game against Cheltenham.

The 21-year-old striker has been suspended for the first four matches of the season following his red card against Tottenham in the final league game of last campaign.

However, the Serbian striker looks set to return for the EFL second-round cup tie with a match against promotion rivals Brighton coming up on Saturday.

“We didn’t have too many options up front,” said Benitez to the official club website.

“Mitrović is a different kind of striker. He is strong and can give us some physicality too.

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“To train hard and not to play is always difficult for any player so I hope he will do well and he will give us something different.

“It is a good opportunity for him.”

The Magpies front man was one of the team’s shining lights towards the end of last season as they narrowly failed in their bid to escape Premier League relegation.

Mitrovic scored nine goals for Newcastle in 36 appearances across all competitions, since moving to St James’ Park last summer.

But the £13million signing from Anderlecht picked up two red cards last season and has a questionable temperament.

Benitez has subsequently brought in versatile forward Dwight Gayle for around £10million from Crystal Palace after allowing Papiss Cisse to move to China.

The Spaniard also has Ayoze Perez and Adam Armstrong at his disposal for the long season.

In other Newcastle team news, Ligue 1 side FC Lorient have contacted the Magpies about the status of Yoan Gouffran and Emmanuel Riviere.