Steve McClaren has told the Chronicle that he is delighted with the improvements that Aleksandar Mitrovic has made in a Newcastle United shirt.
The Serbian forward was a big money signing for the North East club from Anderlecht last summer, but he has not been particularly prolific on Tyneside so far.
However, McClaren has seen past the 21-year-old’s lack of goals - and he insists that Mitrovic is progressing well at St. James’ Park.
“I thought outside the box he (Mitrovic) was excellent," McClaren said.
“He’s really improving – he’s a real fighter for us, a focal point and a target.
“And someone that we need in the team because he brings other players into play and then we’ve got runners going through.
“It’s not one man’s responsibility to put the ball in the back of the net, it’s other people’s as well.
“And his performances – he’s young, he’s growing, he’s getting better.
“He’s getting a lot better than he was at the start of the season and, again, strikers; their confidence comes from sticking the ball in the back of the net.”
Mitrovic was expected to be Newcastle’s main goalscorer this season, but he has just four goals in 19 Premier League appearances to date.
The powerful forward has been guilty of missing opportunities, but his whole-hearted approach has ensured that he has still won admirers.
Mitrovic’s passion has been clear for all to see, and his has worked tirelessly to try and help his team.
However, his failure to hit the back of the net with any regularity remains a worry, and McClaren could be forced to bring in a striker over the coming weeks - with West Bromwich Albion’s Saido Berahino said to be on his wishlist by the Chronicle.