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Mark Lawrenson quick to get excuses in for Steve Bruce as he forecasts what will happen at Rochdale

9 months ago
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Mark Lawrenson has been previewing the big FA Cup clash at Spotland.

At 12.31pm on Saturday, 18th in League One Rochdale take on 13th in the Premier League Newcastle United.

Surely a straightforward win…but for who you might ask?

When it comes to FA Cup pedigree, Newcastle have only won six games in the competition in twelve and a half years of Mike Ashley, so only a fool would believe this to be a walkover for NUFC.

Indeed, despite starting off in round one each season, the last six years have seen Rochdale reach FA Cup round four more times than Newcastle United.

Mark Lawrenson is quick to get his excuses in early for Steve Bruce, talking about the injury list.

Lawrenson makes out as though this is nothing to do with Bruce and only ‘big’ clubs can rotate and manage their squads.

However, Steve Bruce chose to play a load of tired players on Wednesday and left out the Longstaff brothers, Atsu, Krafth and Gayle, all players who have hardly played in recent weeks.

Regardless of injuries, Newcastle are playing a team who until winning at Accrington on Wednesday, had lost eight of the previous nine League One matches.

Whilst Newcastle have lost four of their last five Premier League games, NUFC should, SHOULD, still be able to beat these.

Mark Lawrenson goes for Newcastle to get a plucky 1-1 draw and get a replay.

Having an extra game to play between the way match at Wolves (Sat 11th) and Chelsea (Sat 18th) at home will be way down any list of Steve Bruce preferences.

However, he has made a rod for his own back by declaring Newcastle would go all out for the cups and treat it as importantly as the Premier League.

Steve Bruce has already embarrassed himself on that front by making a massive seven changes when losing to Leicester in the League Cup this season, so you can only imagine the reaction if he then plays a far weaker team against Rochdale than he has to and they lose…

Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport:

“Newcastle have got a whole load of injuries to deal with after their festive programme.

“Yes, they knew they had a busy schedule just like every else did, but if you don’t have the biggest of squads then you are not able to rotate like the big teams do, and you pay the price.

“The Magpies have been left short defensively, which will not help here, and they are going to find it tough if they try to rest too many more players at Spotland (also known as Crown Oil Arena), because it is a tight little ground and it feels like the crowd are breathing down your neck.

“Rochdale had a scare themselves in the second round, where they needed a replay to beat non-league Boston, but they held Tottenham here in the fifth round a couple of years ago and they will be confident of doing the same on Saturday, and securing another pay-day with a replay.

“Prediction is Rochdale 1 Newcastle 1.”

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