Rafa Benitez has given an insight into what to expect when his team is named at 2pm to face Birmingham, as United aim to reach the fourth round.
The Newcastle boss has named a trio of players who definitely won’t play and one who will start.
Rafa says that Rob Elliot will play today but it will be at Little Benton, rather than St Andrews.
The United Manager believes that the returning keeper needs more games before he can compete for a first team space and so will get 90 minutes in a reserve match against Brighton, kicking off at noon today.
Matz Sels will almost certainly play, with Rafa Benitez confirming that he won’t be risking a number of first team players, Karl Darlow surely one of them.
Rafa does name Dwight Gayle though as one who is definitely rested but adds that it is ‘fair’ to give an opportunity to ‘Mitrovic or Murphy’ to encourage and reward them for work in training.
Not surprisingly Benitez indicates he won’t play both of them together and actually names Mitrovic as the one who will start – though the smart money must be on Murphy also getting some pitch time today.
Only one new injury to report, with Rafa Benitez saying Ayoze Perez is ruled out with a calf problem, though the Manager indicates that the forward is left out as a precaution rather than something serious.
“Mitrovic will play.
“I won’t risk Gayle because he’s playing so many games in the league and doing so well and I think it is fair to give an opportunity to Mitrovic or to Murphy.
“If they’re working hard in every training session with the hope that they can play, then they have the opportunity to play, that’s great.”
“I try to win every game and this competition is quite exciting…but at the same time we want to go through using the squad.
“I wouldn’t lie and say that we will play our strongest team – because there are players involved in so many games and you would be risking them.
“I want to be sure that everybody has an opportunity, that the players who aren’t playing will have the opportunity to give everything.
“Rob Elliot will be with the Under 23s against Brighton (home at noon today), I told him that he needs more games and then afterwards he can compete with the other two.
“The only one who will not be available is Ayoze (Perez) who has some discomfort in his calf and we don’t want to risk him.
“Some of the others (in the fringes of the squad) will play, I can’t say how many but I want to see them playing and giving everything.”