Newcastle United: Atsu set for January move; Mitrovic sends Preston warning; Elliot return close

Newcastle United will already be planning for the January transfer window and one player within their ranks will be keen to impress during the interim. Christian Atsu is on loan from Chelsea and the Chronicle report that the Magpies are considering making the move permanent in January. The Ghanaian is finally being given a chance to prove himself in England after a couple of frustrating loan spells and he has impressed Newcastle supporters. He scored the winning goal against Rotherham United and was a constant menace during the week against Preston.

 

There is certainly a chance for Atsu to make the move permanent as Newcastle will need to have a strong squad if they achieve promotion as expected. His pace and directness make him an exciting player to have, while his ability to play on either wing will appeal to Benitez. The Newcastle boss will have doubts though, especially as Atsu has yet to make an impact in the Premier League, despite spells at three different clubs. The winger will have to perform well for the rest of the season and show that he can be consistent. He has had a promising start, but more is needed if he is to earn a contract at St James’ Park.

After his brace against Preston in the EFL Cup, Aleksandar Mitrovic is in contention to start against the same opposition this weekend. However, the Serbian has warned supporters not to expect a repeat performance on Saturday as Preston will be eager to get revenge. It was a dominant victory for the Magpies on Tuesday, but the early red card went a long way to helping Newcastle secure the win.

“It was an amazing night, great performance, good goals and great for the team,”

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“Preston are a good team, they got a red card and it made it easier, but it was hard to play against them.”

This has been the message from the Newcastle dressing room since Tuesday and shows how Benitez keeps his players grounded, even when everything is going their way. The Spaniard is a perfectionist and he will realise how difficult Saturday will be for his team. Preston will be motivated to put in a much improved performance and it is up to Newcastle to guard against complacency. If they are to win the Championship this season, Newcastle need to prevent getting carried away and these comments from Mitrovic suggest that they will.

Finally, the Chronicle report that Rob Elliot is closing in on a return to fitness, which will provide Newcastle with a huge boost. He was the team’s standout player last season and one of the few positives to emerge from a disappointing campaign. An injury towards the end of the season was harsh and saw Elliot miss the closing stages and Euro 2016. The goalkeeper is now back in training and ready to earn his spot back in the starting eleven.

“It’s a massive honour.

“The season didn’t end how we wanted it to but I still think that standing here now and looking at the state the club is in, I am proud to win this.”

Elliot made real strides last season and proved himself to be a very able number one in the Premier League. It will be interesting to see whether he can get back into the starting eleven as the competition for places is fierce. Karl Darlow has done extremely well recently, while Matz Sels was much improved on Tuesday night. All three are good enough to be starters in the Championship and Benitez will face a tough task to keep them all happy as the season progresses.

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