The young Serbia international joined Newcastle from Anderlecht last summer, and made an immediate impact at St. James’ Park due to his aggression and hard work off the ball.
But despite showing signs, Mitrovic has struggled for goals and has notched just five times in 26 Premier League appearances this season, prompting questions over his ability.
Benitez, speaking to reporters ahead of his side’s clash with Sunderland, defended the striker and made note how he instantly saw great potential in the striker from initial viewings on TV.
“When I was watching games on the TV I could see that he has great potential. After training with him, he’s working very hard. I can see he’s a young player with great potential,” Benitez explained.
“He can score goals and again I will go back to the confidence speech. The team needs more confidence.”
“The team needs to improve in defence and if you do that maybe you will improve in attack because you will regain the ball, you will have more possession and then you can create chances and score goals.”
“For strikers it depends on the team but he knows what he has to do and we are trying to tell the people around him what he’s capable of doing, so they can try and help him.”
Newcastle have been blunt in the final third on far too many occasions this season, especially on the road where with just seven goals to their name no top-flight side has scored fewer.
Benitez seemingly puts that down to a team effort and lack of chances, yet when opportunities have come their way too often they have gone to waste as Newcastle suffer from a lack of prolificacy.
If the Tyneside club have any hopes of preserving their top-flight status, they must be more clinical in-front of goal and players such as Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez have to step up and prove their worth.