ALEKSANDAR Mitrovic's "silly" behaviour in Newcastle United's EFL Cup win over Preston North End has earned him a reprimand from manager Rafa Benitez in front of his own team-mates.

Benitez is unhappy that his striker argued with Matt Ritchie over who should take a penalty, then received a yellow card for tearing off his shirt in a goal celebration.

Both incidents were spotlighted during a team meeting by the United boss, who said: "I like to use these examples for everyone. It will be good for the others.

"This has been a conversation with the whole team because these are things that are important for the rest of the team too."

Benitez was particularly dismayed about the caution that followed the Serbian international's second goal. "It's a silly thing to do and you don't need to do it," he said. "He knows, everybody knows and I like to use these examples for everyone. To be booked for this makes no sense.

"And they need to know that arguing to take a penalty when we have already decided on a penalty taker also makes no sense."

While Mitrovic continues to test his manager's patience, Benitez also believes the player has matured since he arrived at Newcastle and was booked seconds after making his debut was sent off inside 15 minutes.

"It would be fair to say he is a challenge, but every player is a challenge," Benitez said: "In terms of his mentality, he's a young player. He's very emotional and it's a question of time.

"When I came last year I had two or three conversations with him, trying to manage him a little bit. Now he's getting better.

"The other day he was so excited. He's even celebrating the goals with his team-mates when he's on the bench.

"There are a lot of positives, but he has to manage his temper a little bit. That is the challenge.

"When you have 25 to 27 players, you know that you will have some issues that you need to manage - and they must manage themselves also.

"Normally in all teams you have a group of players and they control themselves, have some rules and, if someone is making a mistake, they can manage it together. This club is quite good at these things because this is normally not such a big problem here."

The striker's antics on Tuesday night won't affect Mitrovic's chances of playing today at Deepdale, where the 22-year-old is likely to keep his place because of Dwight Gayle's injury.

Benitez insists that Gayle's absence will not prompt a major chance in his tactical approach. He said:"You have to adapt a little, but against Queens Park Rangers we did well with Mitro up front.

"It's not that we need to change too many things, but it will be a big difference in terms of playing in behind the defenders because he will be unlikely to run behind like Gayle.

"Maybe he will become more of a target man for us instead, but he was working very hard the other day even with his runs so I think it will be more or less similar in terms of how we play.

"Mitro's still learning his game. I think he's improving and he can hold the ball, he can flick the ball and, he might not have the same pace as Gayle, but he can run too."

So how good can Mitrovic be in the future? "We have some good players that can be much better but it depends how much they can work and whether they can be consistent in terms of their approach and their training sessions," Beitez said. "He's very keen to improve, so hopefully he can continue improving."