Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has left the door open over a return to the first team for outcast striker Aleksandar Mitrovic when his loan at Fulham comes to an end.

The Serbian striker was shipped off the Craven Cottage in the January transfer window after being cast out of the senior side, falling behind both Joselu and Dwight Gayle in the striker’s pecking order, and managed just seven appearances in the first half of the campaign.

He has rediscovered his goal scoring touch on his return to England’s second tier, with an impressive seven goals in eight appearances for the promotion chasing side, and Benitez has confirmed that a decision on his future will be made in May, insisting there is still a chance he will return as a member of the first team.

The Spanish boss told the Chronicle: “There are two ways to analyse this. One is Mitrovic is scoring goals in the Championship. It’s good news for him and us.

“Two, he is playing before the World Cup and he is our player. We then have to discuss his future in May.

“In May we will see and if he is doing well, fine no problem.”

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The 23-year-old has a total of 72 appearances under his belt for the Magpies, with just 17 goals coming across all competitions.

Football Insider verdict

Benitez is not daft, and will never admit to putting a player up for sale as it will just reduce their price tag. A return to the senior side at St James’ Park would be a major surprise for Mitrovic and the Toon Army while the Spaniard is still in charge, who has evidently had issues over both his on and off field performances. As such, his comments should be taken with a pinch of salt, but if he continues scoring at the impressive rate he is right now, then the Newcastle boss may have no choice but to give him another opportunity to shine.

In other Newcastle United transfer news, the club must make a move for a £20million striker available in summer.

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