Aleksandar Mitrovic needs to keep starting for Newcastle

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Aleksandar Mitrovic must have been relieved when he scored what turned out to be the winner against West Bromwich Albion last weekend. A recent string of bad misses were magnified by Newcastle's poor form, where they lost four consecutive games 1-0 over Christmas and New Year before a lacklustre defeat to Watford. His team mates would only create one, maybe two, chances for the Serbian but those misses were making him harder to endorse.

Naturally, it led to criticism and head coach Steve McClaren took him out of the firing line for the shocking 3-0 defeat to Everton. Had McClaren lost faith in his lead striker? He chose to play one up front at Goodison Park and went with Ayoze Perez who, for all his fantastic qualities, shouldn't be leading a line on his own. He's physically weak.

The Spaniard has incredible footwork, a strong work ethic and is capable of magic but was never going to work out as an isolated striker. And so it proved, as Mitrovic was brought on in the 54th minute.


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After half an hour he was given his first sniff of goal, but failed to gather a Jonjo Shelvey pass. The away fans groaned, Everton scored two more and it was another miserable journey back to the north east.

So Saturday's winner was a huge moment for the £13 million signing from Anderlecht, who played from the start. His fifth Premier League goal followed a close-range miss minutes earlier - he really should have buried it.

But Mitrovic was superb, with his great strength making life tough for defenders and his hold-up play often a great output. He's a vital pivot from which Newcastle produce attacks.

He has already learnt to channel his aggression in a positive way, after a stupid red card against Arsenal in September. Mitrovic is having to mature very quickly after being entrusted with immediately scoring the goals to keep Newcastle away from relegation - a harsh expectation for a 21-year-old, new to English football, who had abysmal service from midfield.

Newcastle fans will be hoping that Saturday's goal - as well as new signings Shelvey and Andros Townsend - will boost Mitrovic's confidence and signal the end of his indifferent shooting. The way to do that, McClaren needs to understand, is to keep starting him.

Can Mitrovic's goals keep Newcastle in the Premier League? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!

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Jonjo Shelvey
Alan Shearer
Fabricio Coloccini
Premier League
Andros Townsend
Steven Taylor
Newcastle United

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