No Interest In FA Cup ... Once Again!

Last updated : 03 January 2018 By Footy Mad - Editor

Rafa Benitez has suggested he will utilise his Newcastle United squad for the FA Cup third-round tie against Luton Town this weekend.

Image result for stoke city 0 newcastle united 1The Magpies came through a hectic festive schedule by picking up seven points inside 10 days, during which time Benitez rotated his side significantly.

Despite having used 20 different players during Newcastle’s last four Premier League outings, the Spaniard is likely to bring additional fringe players into the side to take on League Two Luton this weekend.

Last January, Benitez handed first-team debuts to youngsters such as Stuart Findlay, Dan Barlaser and Yasin Ben El-Mhanni in the FA Cup last season, and he could look to Peter Beardsley’s Under-23 squad once more this year given that the priority remains Premier League survival.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, Jesus Gamez, Rob Elliot and Florian Lejeune have been sidelined with back, ankle, thigh and foot injuries respectively in recent weeks, and Benitez has suggested he will not risk any of that quartet in the FA Cup.

Instead, the Magpies manager admits it is “not ideal” that Newcastle have an FA Cup tie just five days after having played two Premier League matches inside the space of 48 hours.

“Not really,” Benitez replied when asked if the FA Cup would prove to be a welcome distraction given Newcastle’s Premier League relegation fight.

“We have two or three injuries, maybe they will need some time. We don’t have too many players.

“Playing two games in a few days, we needed to change players [against Stoke], and to play more games is not ideal. OK, we have to do it and we will do it.”

Joselu was not risked against former side Stoke City after suffering from cramp during training, while Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden were also used sparingly over the festive period too.

Whether any of that trio feature against Luton remains to be seen.

“He had some cramps the other day, so I couldn’t play him,” Benitez explained when asked why Joselu did not start at the Bet365 Stadium.

“Maybe I could have at the end, but it would have been a risk, and I don’t want to take a risk when you do not have too many players.

“We have to manage what we have, especially with the strikers. We had to make sure the players could recover and be on the pitch. With his cramps the other day, we didn’t want to take any risks.”