"We’ve got two or three players who do need minutes before a busy Christmas period." That will be music to the ears of United supporters, as Mike Phelan hints at making some changes to a Hull side who are desperately lacking in squad depth.
The Tigers will be without key midfielders Sam Clucas (suspension) and Ryan Mason, who had to be taken off at half-time on Saturday. Long term absentees include: Abel Hernandez (Groin), Shaun Maloney (Back), Moses Odubajo (Patella), Alex Bruce (Achilles) and Will Keane (Knee).
This season, they have been poor, but results have picked up slightly in recent weeks. A surprise 2-1 victory over Southampton has seemingly gave them much needed hope. Although, they did lose 3-0 at the hands of Sunderland, and had to battle for a 1-1 draw against Tony Pulis’ West Brom.
Yes, they are a Premier League side, and should be respected, but Newcastle will feel that they really have a chance on Tuesday night.
With regards to Newcastle, injuries will keep out several players. Rolando Aarons will probably not feature again this season, and Jesus Gamez, who injured his collarbone in the shock Blackburn defeat, will be out for at least a month. Rob Elliot is getting closer though, and Jack Colback will return from an eye problem after missing the weekend’s game.
Interestingly, Mo Diame will likely line up against his former club, with Ayoze Perez reverting back to the side-lines. Jonjo Shelvey is available too, as a date for his personal hearing has still not been set. Fringe men like Achraf Lazaar, Massadio Haidara and maybe even Daryl Murphy could be given some valuable minutes on the pitch. As for the striker berth, Dwight Gayle will be a shoe-in to start after Aleksandar Mitrovic disappointed against Blackburn.
Rafa Benitez will surely have had strong words following the flat weekend performance, and will see this as a genuine chance of progressing in the cup. Players will know it. The fans will know it. Gone are the days that Newcastle would neglect cup competitions. The last four is within touching distance. After Tuesday night, it could be time to dream. Come on the Toon!
Likely line ups:
Hull City: Jakupovic, Elmohamady, Maguire, Davies, Robertson, Huddlestone, Livermore, Snodgrass, Henriksen, Diomande, Mbokani
Newcastle United: Sels, Anita, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Shelvey, Colback, Ritchie, Diame, Gouffran, Gayle
(Optimistic) Score prediction: Hull City- 0-1 Newcastle United