The Football Association Cup resumes its action this weekend, with Newcastle and a host of Premier League and Championship clubs set to join the 3rd rounds.
The Magpies will be visiting St. Andrew’s on Saturday to square up against fellow Championship side Birmingham City and having recently thrashed the hosts 4-nil in December, Newcastle will hope to earn another victory in order to proceed to the next rounds and put their recent poor performances behind them.
Here is how Rafa Benitez could line up his men
Formation : 4-2-3-1
GK – Matz Sels
Sels has had to settle for a role on the bench after making just 9 Championship appearances, with Darlow now the first choice in goal.
The young Belgian should get the nod for weekend’s F.A Cup clash.
LB – Achraf Lazaar
The Moroccan has made just 3 Championship appearances this term, all as a sub, but he played all minutes against Hull in the EFL Cup and could also get the nod against Birmingham as Dummett makes way.
CB – Clark
The Irish defender has been a constant presence at the Newcastle backline this term, playing 20 Championship games and also featuring in the EFL clash against Hull and should likely be included in the lineup come weekend.
CB – Lascelles
Like his centre defensive partnership, Newcastle’s captain has been frequently used across all competitions, and Benitez would almost likely include him in his starting XI for the clash against Birmingham City.
RB – Yedlin
Anita should make way for the U.S international after having featured at the position constantly of recent.
The Dutch right-back hasn’t been particularly impressive, and that could give Yedlin a chance to prove his worth.
CM – Jack Colback
With Congo international Chancel Mbemba gone for the African Nations Cup, Colback should likely continue in his position as Shelvey enters his 4th of a 5-game ban.
The English midfielder hasn’t been very spectacular in his last 3 games and has another chance to impress if given the nod come weekend.
CM – Isaac Hayden
Hayden has been the better pair of Newcastle’s deep midfield pairing with Shelvey out, and he would probably get the chance to start alongside Colback or Murphy.
AML – Gouffran
With Chelsea loanee and Ghana international, Atsu, away on country duties for the African Cup of Nations, the French winger will almost likely get the chance to play the F.A Cup clash as he would have made way for Atsu if the west African winger were around.
AMC – Ayoze Pérez
With Diame off for Gabon as he prepares to help Mali at the AFCON, the Spaniard forward should be getting the nod to start against Birmingham, and most likely in the next Championship game against Brentford.
However, weekend’s clash could be his audition for a temporary return to the Championship starting XI if he gets named in weekend’s lineup.
AMR – Ritchie
The Scottish winger could have had Atsu to contest with too for a role in Saturday’s clash but would now mostly get the nod to continue on the right in hope that he puts up his usual impressive performance.
CF – Aleksandar Mitrovic
The young Serbian has had just 4 Championship starts this term, and could get a looking in against Gianfranco Zola’s charges, as hat-trick hero against them in December, Gayle, might be given a rest.