After so many years of the FA Cup dominating the debate at this time of the season, normally after United had just been knocked out…
We are all now faced with an FA Cup replay on Wednesday night that surely many of us would simply like to disappear.
Not saying that equates to wishing our club out of the premier cup competition BUT it isn’t a help.
This season has seen Newcastle definitely on the right side of being affected by injuries, whether by luck or good management by Rafa Benitez, but that all changed on Saturday afternoon.
As it stands, Newcastle look to be missing at least 11 of their first team squad for the Birmingham FA Cup replay, as follows:
Gamez, Aarons, Mitrovic, Anita, Gayle, Hayden
African Cup of Nations:
Diame, Mbemba, Atsu
Sammy Ameobi, Jamie Sterry
This appears to leave, at a maximum, the following available for FA Cup duty:
Sels, Darlow, Elliot
Clark, Dummett, Hanley, Lazaar, Lascelles, Yedlin, Haidara
Colback, Ritchie, Gouffran, Tiote, Shelvey
Touch wood, we seem ok for goalkeepers, with Rob Elliot now well along the route of giving Rafa three first team options.
However, with outfield players it is looking a real dilemma for Rafa Benitez, as Rotherham follows on the Saturday – they might be bottom of the Championship but they beat Norwich on Saturday and have three wins in their last seven league matches, plus no doubt will see coming to St James Park as a free go with nothing to lose.
The 14 outfield players listed above – out of them there is Tiote who is expected to leave any time, Haidara is almost constantly injured and after playing against Birmingham last weekend, wasn’t in the 18 man squad at Brentford, even though returning loan players Sterry and Ameobi were included.
Added to this, Gouffran was injured late on yesterday but had to carry on with three subs used, so there must be a question mark over him, whilst it remains to be seen how the rest of the team come out of that tough win at Brentford – if Tiote, Gouffran and Haidara weren’t available then Rafa would be down to 11 fit outfield players for this FA Cup tie.
At the very least, Rafa would appear to have call on some young and inexperienced players to fill up his bench against Birmingham, especially with the cruel timing of Woodman, Longstaff & Roberts heading off to Kilmarnock, as well as Armstrong, Toney & Gilliead going out on further loans.
You have to feel sorry for the Newcastle boss as he has such limited options, though clearly it was never a long-term plan to be relying on the likes of Sammy Ameobi and Jamie Sterry this month, as otherwise Newcastle would never have allowed them to be cup-tied at their loan clubs.
Such situations though do lead to opportunities for others and now some of those in the Under 23s will be wondering if they are going to get an unexpected rapid promotion in the coming days.
On Wednesday night the Newcastle team may need the help of the fans a little more than normal.