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Newcastle United v Blackburn Rovers

4th January 2019, 15:56 by Bobbie Jackson

Rafael Benitez has challenged his fringe players to step up when Newcastle host Blackburn in round three of the FA Cup.

Newcastle have struggled for consistency in the league this season and they sit just two points clear of the bottom three.

With that in mind, Benitez says he won’t risk his senior players and is likely to heavily rotate for the clash against Championship opposition.

Benitez has urged his fringe players to rise to the occasion and insists they will get further opportunities if they advance to the fourth round.

Mo Diame and Ciaran Clark are certain to miss out due to injury, but Federico Fernandez and Karl Darlow are closing in on returns.

The likes of Sean Longstaff, Jamie Sterry and Freddie Woodman could be called into the starting XI at St James’ Park, while Florian Lejeune is likely to play.

Championship side Blackburn ended a run of five games without victory by beating West Brom on New Year’s Day.

Tony Mowbray will have to decide whether or not to risk Elliott Bennett and Ryan Nyambe as they look to return from injury.

Loan duo Kasey Palmer and Harrison Reed are in contention after getting permission from parent clubs Chelsea and Southampton respectively to play.

Newcastle and Blackburn share three victories apiece over the last six meetings across all competitions.

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

Bobbie Jackson is a reporter with an in-depth knowledge of football at all levels. A Blackpool supporter, Bobbie is also a keen rugby union, boxing, MMA and UFC follower.

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