Monday 27 March 2017

Aleksandar Mitrovic told not to hold back in derby game

Aleksandar Mitrovic has had a fiery start to his career in England
Aleksandar Mitrovic has had a fiery start to his career in England

Aleksandar Mitrovic has been told to "play close to the edge" as he gets his first taste of the Wear-Tyne derby.

The Newcastle striker has belatedly announced himself on Tyneside with two goals in as many games, including a sumptuous left-foot volley in Sunday's 6-2 Barclays Premier League thumping of Norwich, after initially falling foul of officialdom during his first few weeks in English football.

Mitrovic, a £13million summer signing from Anderlecht, has reined himself in since collecting two yellow cards and one red in his first five games for the club, much to manager Steve McClaren's delight, but he wants the 21-year-old Serbia international to push the line in Sunday's derby trip to Sunderland.

McClaren said: "There is always a fine dividing line, always fine. He has played smart. I would say he has been playing smart, and that is what we have been telling him, be smart. That's what he has done.

"Smart and effective. You can play smart and be ineffective, but play on the line and play smart.

"He got sent off against Arsenal and could have been against Southampton, and they were not derbies, but that was a willingness to win and playing on the edge, on that line.

"That's what you have got to do in every game, not just say, 'Oh, we will choose a derby game and do it now'. We need that every game.

"He has shown a level of maturity in the last three games. But again, we are not getting carried away and saying, 'Woah!'.

"We knew there was a bit of the devil [in him], to be perfectly honest, and that has added to our game. We need that, but we need control and that is the key on Sunday."

Mitrovic is rapidly establishing himself as a cult hero at St James' Park after a shaky start, but McClaren is keen to keep his feet firmly on the ground despite the ovation he received last weekend.

He said: "There's a long way to go. It was nice, but we won't get carried away by that. The team this week has certainly not got carried away by anything."

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