By Danny Wright

27th Mar, 2017 | 2:15pm

Three reasons why this divisive Newcastle player must start v Wigan

COMMENT By Danny Wright

Aleksandar Mitrovic is a player that divides opinion among the Newcastle fan base after scoring just four league goals all season for Rafa Benitez’s side.

The 22-year-old has been out of the starting line-up for the past five matches and is growing increasingly agitated at his lack of chances St. James Park.

Mitro arrived on Tyneside from Anderlecht full of promise and hope, and showed in the Premier League last season glimpses of what is to come from the young striker.

However, the current campaign has been one to forget for the Serbian international but Benitez must start him against Wigan on Saturday and here, Football Insider gives three reasons why:

International form

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Mitrovic found the back of the net with a stunning goal for Serbia against Georgia in a 2018 World Cup qualifier to help his side take top spot in their group. The ex-Partizan striker has scored eight goals in 22 caps for his country with four of his eight total goals coming in his last three outings. A lot has been said about whether players can replicate club form at international level and vice versa but Benitez’s side have scored just once in their last three matches so it’s a risk that the Spaniard must take.

Wigan should be easy pickings

The Latics look as though they are doomed for another relegation to League One this season, so Benitez should see this as the perfect opportunity to field Mitrovic against a team that is struggling. Wigan don’t have the worst defence in the league but their lack of confidence might mean that the Serbian international should be able to use his physical prowess to boss the visiting backline at St. James’ Park. He made light work of some top flight centre-backs last season so against one of the Championship’s worst sides he should surely give himself some confidence by grabbing a goal or two.

Dwight Gayle and Daryl Murphy fitness

Neither Gayle nor Murphy have given Benitez much confidence in their fitness levels during this campaign. Gayle set the league alight before the turn of the year, but since picking up a hamstring injury that kept him out of eight games the ex-Crystal Palace striker has found the net just once in six appearances. Murphy has missed big chunks of his debut season on Tyneside and could miss the Wigan game altogether. Mitrovic is fully fit and ready to go.

In other Newcastle news, this midfielder reportedly wanted by Benitez holds the key to Premier League survival.

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