Blackburn Rovers vs Newcastle United Preview: Benitez hoping a win can lift spirits as Watford await in the next round
Photo Credit:(Getty images/Mark Runnacles)

Blackburn Rovers vs Newcastle United Preview: Benitez hoping a win can lift spirits as Watford await in the next round

The Magpies travel to Ewood park having to rely on numerous reserve players to get them through to the next round of the FA Cup.

Aaron Hindhaugh

Rafa Benitez has a selection headache as he takes a depleted squad down to face Blackburn Rovers in their FA Cup third-round replay.

Newcastle United will be hoping to avoid a cup upset at the hands of Blackburn however, an early exit may allow Benitez to keep his players fresh for Premier League survival.

If the Magpies are to avoid another early cup exit they will have to play much better then they did at St James' Park last two weeks ago when they were saved by a late Matt Ritchie penalty

Both sides need a win

Both sides see this as an opportunity to build some momentum for their league campaigns that have both hit some stumbling blocks over the festive period.

When the two sides met on Tyneside it was the Championship side that dominated for the majority of the game and took a deserved lead through Bradley Dack.

Newcastle only got a foothold in the game when Benitez brought on regular first-team players like Jonjo Shelvey, Christian Atsu and Ayoze Perez.

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The winner of this replay will go onto face Watford at home which should an incentive for Newcastle to get the win as they have taken four points off the Hornets this season.

Team news

Benitez is struggling to find the right balance between giving fringe players a chance and not risking too many first team players.

The Spaniard has confirmed that Shelvey, Paul Dummett and Mo Diame are ruled through injury, however, Kenedy is back in the squad after not being able to play against Chelsea at the weekend.

Tony Mowbray has the same squad of players to pick from that earned a replay at Newcastle last time out and come into the game on the back of a 2-0 win at Millwall.

Both managers confident of a positive result

Benitez admitted this is the most important game at the moment, despite saying a draw was the worst possible result after the 1-1 draw two weeks ago.

The Spaniard told The Chronicle: "I used to say one time at time."

"This game is the most important for us with the players we have available."

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However, he did admit it would be the same approach as in terms of his team selection: "It will be the same idea" (as first game against Blackburn).

"We will look to protect some players and provide some balance."

Mowbray believes it will be a difficult game but is confident his side will send their supporters home happy.

"The team know how tough the game is going to be."

"But we always believe we can win, particularly at home."

"We have a level of belief that we can ask questions and put them on the back foot.”

Key battle

This match could be won in the middle of the pitch as it is likely Newcastle will be playing two young midfielders in Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden.

This is why Bradley Dack will be crucial just like he was in the reverse fixture he was the most influential player on the pitch and certainly someone the Magpies must keep a close eye on.

If Longstaff and Hayden can keep Dack off the ball as much as possible and spread the ball out wide to their quick wingers like Kenedy, Atsu and Callum Roberts.

Longstaff in what will be only his fourth start for Newcastle will have to keep the ball moving quickly in midfield and get the Magpies moving from defence to attack as quickly as possible.