By Russell Edge

Newcastle United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has said he understands why boss Rafael Benitez has chosen not to include him in the first team.

The Serbian striker has suffered a frustrating start to the season, despite having already netted twice across all competitions, with just two appearances to his name.

He began the season as an unused substitute, before Benitez gave him a chance in the first team in their EFL Cup tie with Nottingham Forest.

Mitrovic made the most of the opportunity by scoring in the 4-3 defeat, and he replicated his goal scoring talents in the Magpies’ next match by netting after coming off the bench against West Ham in a 3-0 victory.

However the 23-year-old received a subsequent three match ban for violent conduct in an incident not spotted by the referee, ruling him out of victories over Swansea and Stoke and the defeat against Brighton.

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However, despite being eligible to return in the club’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool, Mitrovic was snubbed by Benitez from the match day squad.

He says that he understands the manager’s decision but insists that he is ready to compete should he be called upon.

Speaking ahead of his country’s clash against Austria, he was quoted by the Chronicle as saying: “I was punished for three games and the team did not play badly during this time so I stayed on the bench – which was the coach’s decision.

“I am ready physically and mentally.”

While currently a fringe player for his club, Mitrovic is expected to lead the line for his country on Friday, hoping to add to his 29 appearances and 10 goals.

In other Newcastle United news, a report has revealed that a controversial figure could be set to remain at the club.

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