Steve McClaren says there will be a ‘lot of water under the bridge’ before it is Watford v Newcastle in the third round of the FA Cup.

However, the Head Coach has ‘reassured’ Newcastle fans that the team will be ready for that FA Cup-tie.

Starting on Sunday, Newcastle have five matches within a 20 day time period, with 15 Premier League points to play for.

Once we reach that FA Cup-tie, the league season will be more than half gone, with 18 of the 38 matches remaining.

In terms of games either side of the Watford cup game, you couldn’t ask for much tougher opposition. With Arsenal away the weekend before and then Manchester United at home, scheduled for probably only three days after the third round match, unless the cup game is moved to the Friday night.

The third round games have to be played within the time period of Friday 8 January and Monday 11 January.

The Newcastle v Man Utd game has already been moved forward 24 hours to the Tuesday for live TV screening, which would presumably rule out Sunday or Monday for the cup-tie.

To say this is a pivotal part of Newcastle’s season is a big understatement.

In the 30 days there will be the six Premier League games culminating in the one against Man Utd, as well as potentially our final cup game of the season.

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The pre-season promises from both Mike Ashley and Steve McClaren that Newcastle will be going all out to win the cups, will be sorely challenged.

Just how many changes will be made for Watford with Man Utd only 72 hours later?

Of course, the players could prove us all wrong (hopefully) and go on a winning run, using Liverpool as the launch pad.

After defeat at home to Watford and watching them on TV since, it would be a tough game even if Newcastle play at full strength, plus United face the Hornets only two weeks later at Vicarage Road in the league.

Sunday 13 Dec – Tottenham (A)

Saturday 19 Dec – Villa (H)

Saturday 26 Dec – Everton (H)

Monday 28 Dec – West Brom (A)

Saturday 2 January – Arsenal (A)

To be played between Fri 8 Jan and Mon 11 Jan – Watford (A) (FA Cup 3rd Round)

Tuesday 12 January – Man Utd (H)

Steve McClaren speaking to the official club website:

“Away from home against a Premier League team, it is a tough draw.

“We are playing a good team who are strong at home and we will have to be at our very best to win.

“But that is a long way off and there will be a lot of water under the bridge before then.

“Come the second weekend of January, we will be ready.”