Newcastle’s FA Cup campaign kicks off with a Third Round tie at home to Blackburn Rovers.
It’s a decent draw for the Magpies, not that the FA Cup is the main priority nowadays in the North East. Newcastle have a horrific record in the competition since Mike Ashley bought the club, and there is no reason to think that that record will improve this season.
They’ll come up against a dangerous Blackburn side, who have an ex Magpie in their ranks in the shape of Adam Armstrong. No doubt, the local lad will want to make his mark on his return to St James’ Park.
But how will Rafa Benitez lineup? How many changes will he actually make?
Chance for Woodman against Blackburn
One likely change will be in between the sticks.
Martin Dubravka made a rare mistake against Manchester United, and should be taken out of the spotlight for the FA Cup clash. In his place should be Freddie Woodman, who deserves a chance in the first-team. Woodman is highly rated at Newcastle, and needs to get some senior minutes under his belt.
Florian Lejeune returned to the first-team against Manchester United, taking a place on the bench for the first time since his horrific injury.
The game against Blackburn presents Lejeune with a great opportunity to get back to match fitness, having only briefly appeared for the reserves during his comeback.
Pressure on Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey had an interesting game off the bench on Wednesday night. One that saw him escape a red card for a challenge on Paul Pogba.
Now that he’s cleared to play, Shelvey must prove a point against Blackburn. With Ki Sung-yueng away on international duty and Mo Diame injured, Shelvey has a chance to reclaim his position.
However, he might have to play a more disciplined role, as he could appear alongside youngster Sean Longstaff. The 21-year-old will surely get a chance to start, having previously played in Newcastle’s Carabao Cup exit to Nottingham Forest.
If Shelvey can prove he has the discipline to play a more defensive role, then he might get another chance in the Premier League.
Predicted lineup to face Blackburn: Woodman; Manquillo, Lejeune, Clark, Dummett; Murphy, Shelvey, Longstaff, Kenedy; Perez, Joselu