It is Newcastle v Luton on Saturday and Mark Lawrenson has been looking forward to the game.

Not that Rafa Benitez has, the Newcastle boss admitting that the FA Cup is an unwelcome distraction away from the job of keeping United in the Premier League.

The Newcastle boss played a reserve side when losing to League One side Oxford last season in the competition, whilst in August he did the same when losing to Forest in the League Cup.

Saturday is certain to see a similar scenario, Rafa having made 10 changes for that Forest match, Newcastle fans are unlikely to see many, if any, this time of the side who started the last home match against Brighton a week ago.

One exception might be Paul Dummett, the defender needing game time after returning from injury in that Brighton match, and another match ideal for him if not the rest of his teammates.

Mark Lawrenson says that Newcastle fans shouldn’t worry though, as whatever team Rafa picks will see NUFC into the fourth round.

There will be a fair few Newcastle supporters who don’t share Lawrenson’s (over) confidence.

The Luton game will see the largest ever FA Cup crowd at St James Park in the Mike Ashley era…no wonder he chose Newcastle United to own.

Mark Lawrenson speaking to BBC Sport:

“Newcastle have got home advantage against Luton in their tie and I think that will see them through, no matter what team Magpies boss Rafa Benitez picks.

“I hope the Hatters fans who are travelling in numbers get something for their money though.

“Stoke boss Mark Hughes is under more pressure following his side’s defeat by Newcastle on Monday but I think he will get some respite on Saturday (when playing away to Coventry).

“I hope so anyway.”

Newcastle v Luton Match Betting:

NUFC win 4/9Draw 18/5  – Luton win 11/2

NUFC win 1-0 15/2Luton win 1-0 21/1

All Newcastle v Luton betting HERE

New customers to BetVictor qualify for up to a £40 welcome bonus in free bets.

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  • Phil

    Whatever team he puts out SHOULD be able to beat Luton.

    But when the likes of mitro and co got a chance against Oxford it didn’t really go according to plan! So anything can happen.

    Take nothing for granted!

    • Kev Newcastle England

      If its a reserve team we will get beat

  • mentalman

    lets just hope he doesn’t have a rush of blood to his head and play Ritchie as a wing back

    • Rich Lawson

      Or in goal !!! The team is literally anybody’s guess ?

      • mentalman

        Play Hoss in goal, he may learn where it is then

  • Gallowgate Dave

    The FA Cup is a MAXIMUM of 6 games. 6 paltry games and we can’t handle the extra workload so no doubt we will play a weakened side. And why? So we can concentrate on our eternal quest for 17th to keep the gravy train rolling. How depressing that the sport I love has become the pursuit of money rather than the pursuit of silverware and glory. We have zero chance of winning the Premier League so we should be busting our nuts to play in the FA Cup. Fair play to all the lads and lasses who turn up on Saturday but I’m actually choosing to work instead. I vowed after the Sheff Wed debacle in the League Cup a few years back when our reserve XI lost to their reserve XI that I’d stop going until we bothered to treat the cup seriously again. I’ve tried to persuade myself not to care but I can’t help still getting just as angry every FA Cup 3rd round day. It’s not as if we haven’t won it since 1955 or owt. Oh wait…

    • mentalman

      There’s really no reason why we can’t field a fairly strong team

    • NUFCDan

      There’s only slightly more than zero chance of us winning a cup too to be fair. Given the choice between staying up and a distracting cup run where we’d inevitably loose to one of the top 6 at some stage I’d take staying up.

      • Gallowgate Dave

        The beauty of talking footy is we all have different opinions but I’ve never understood how fans have actually been convinced that it’s a good idea to bin the cups off in the hope that it might give us some kind of advantage in the league. Personally I think winning breeds confidence, even in just the tin pot leagues I played in that was obvious. But regardless of whether it’s an advantage or not to be out of the cups where is your sense of glory, of romanticism, of fun? You’re seriously happier focusing on scraping a 17th position than a potential day at Wembley, a weekend on the beer with your mates and a shot at glory? Don’t tell me it can’t be done as 30 odd teams have won a domestic cup since we did including the Mackems and Smoggies. Just out of interest and this is a genuine question do you go to games and how old are you? I’m 38 and can remember a time when winning the FA Cup meant everything and I go to games so I’d be there. I’m assuming you are younger and/or don’t go to games? Think about the enjoyment you’d get seeing us at Wembley, beers flowing and heaven forbid actually winning some silverware compared to the unbridled joy (sarcasm) of reaching 40 points in a season. Imagine the story that’d make for your grandkids!!!

        • mentalman

          you need a skinfull for the journey home

          • Gallowgate Dave

            Win or lose there’s always an excuse for a session!

        • NUFCDan

          30 and yes. Aware of the disastrous consequences of getting relegated again and there’s not guarantee we’d bounce straight back up this time. May also jeopardise any sale in the summer. A decade or more of Championship football isn’t high on my agenda. Since the start of the Prem in 92/93 its only been won by teams outside of the current ‘big 6’ 3 times out of 25 (Everton, Portsmouth, Wigan). With the gulf in finances widening I just think the chances of winning it so ridiculously small its not worth risking key players who can keep us up.

          • Gallowgate Dave

            Some good points regarding who has won the FA Cup since 92/93 but my post is really in reference to either domestic cup (I reference the final straw being the Sheff Wed League Cup game for me). FA Cup holds more respect but I’d be over the moon with either. Since the advent of the Premier League you can add Villa (twice), Leicester (twice), Blackburn, Birmingham, Swansea and even the Smoggies winning the League Cup to Wigan, Portsmouth and Everton winning the FA Cup. If you extend that out to beaten finalists in the FA Cup add Sheff Wed, Boro, Villa (twice), Southampton, Millwall, West Ham, Cardiff, Everton, Portsmouth, Stoke, Hull, Palace and dare I say it us (twice) when we were a club that actually cared about trying to win something. In the League Cup Forest, Sheff Wed, Bolton, Leeds, Boro, Leicester, Tranmere, Birmingham, Bolton, Wigan, Villa, Cardiff, Bradford, Southampton and even the Mackems! Not that I particularly want to get beaten in the final but at least it would prove we were having a crack! So I don’t buy that the chances are so slim that we just don’t bother. Where do you stop with that? Don’t bother going for that good job, hot wife, PB in whatever sport you play etc etc because the chances are slim. Screw that. Reach for the stars and if you don’t get them you might at least get the moon, Keegan taught us to dream and whilst he didn’t quite reach the stars he gave me my finest years as a Toon fan. I refuse to be complicit in us just not bothering to try our best especially as I’m not even convinced 6 extra games would even damage our League campaign.

        • Kev Newcastle England

          Great post mate

      • Martin Rooney

        Hold on passing every round is worth at least half a million so with Rafa constantly banging on about cash you’d think it would be in his interest to try and raise a bit. After all you can’t buy a £20mil striker with £17million.

        • Gallowgate Dave

          Another good point not to mention the boost to our profile which could, if used correctly, raise our commercial revenue.

          Aside from the commerce though imagine Andy Murray telling everyone he couldn’t be bothered with the US Open as he wanted to concentrate on Wimbledon, the England Rugby Union Team telling people they couldn’t be bothered with the Six Nations as they wanted to focus on the World Cup or Lewis Hamilton saying he didn’t want to win Monaco as he was saving his energy for Silverstone. It’s utterly bizarre that footy fans have accepted that footy is the only exception and the pursuit of money (not saying it’s not important of course) is more important than anything else!

        • NUFCDan

          As if Rafa would actually see any of that money though!

  • Alan Pardew

    There’s pressure on us to win any game, there’s no doubt about that, but less pressure to a degree in this competition.

    It’s a different competition that doesn’t affect our league position.

    • Virsino

      True, but good momentum from winning games is beneficial in our league ambitions, irrespective of which competition our wins are coming from.

  • Martin Rooney

    Darlow manquillo mbemba, dummett,haidara diame barlaser, atsu arrons perez, mitro(he says he’s fit) not that bad a weakened team!

  • nevfur

    Ironic that in the fifties when we last won the cup, 3 Times, we used to slacken up in the league which we could have won if not for focussing on the cup.