Wednesday 20

Newcastle United

Magpies set for cup changes

4th January 2019, 17:10 by Aidan Perkins

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez is likely to make plenty of changes for his side's home FA Cup third-round tie with Blackburn on Saturday.

With the Magpies sitting just two points clear of the top-flight relegation zone after Wednesday night's 2-0 home defeat by Manchester United, Benitez is set to rest players against Rovers, with staying up this season the priority.

Midfielder Mohamed Diame is out due to a hip injury, while Federico Fernandez (side strain) and Karl Darlow (elbow) are also injured and striker Yoshinori Muto is on international duty with Japan.

Javier Manquillo, Joselu and Florian Lejeune are among those in contention to start as Benitez turns to his fringe players, while some youngsters from the Under-23 side are likely to be promoted to the matchday squad.

Meanwhile, Benitez has admitted he's as frustrated as the club's fans, who have sent an open letter to owner Mike Ashley begging him to back his manager during the January transfer window.

Benitez said: "What I would say to everyone is that when I decided to come, it was because of the potential of the club and everything.

"I like to have a project and then think about how ambitious we can be. Try to be in the top 10, that was the first idea, so I understand how they feel.

"At the same time, I have to do the best for the team, the best that I can to do my job to be sure that we stay up and have more chances to do well in the future."

Asked if Newcastle, who have not made it past the fourth round of the FA Cup since 2006, could fulfil their potential this season, he added: "This season? Very difficult. What we have to do is be sure we reach our potential, the potential that we can reach this season, not the potential that I hoped or that I was expecting we could reach."

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

Aidan Perkins is a senior journalist that specialises in football stories. Aidan, a Liverpool fan, also has a broad knowledge of several other sports.

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