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Birmingham City v Newcastle United- FA Cup round three rolls around again

After beginning the new year in miserable fashion at Ewood Park, the Magpies travel to Birmingham hoping to arrest their dreadful FA Cup slump. They have failed to progress further than the fourth round of the cup ever since Mike Ashley took over.

Newcastle United Training Session
Isaac Hayden in trainibg this week
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

New Birmingham City manager Gianfranco Zola has concerns over the fitness of skipper Michael Morrison, as well as his first choice goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak. Morrison has been suffering from a groin strain and former United man Kuszczak has a leg injury.

Winger Jacques Maghoma jetted off to the African Nations Cup with Chancel Mbemba’s DR Congo and will not feature for the Blues.

Top scorer Lucas Jutkiewicz is likely to play, as are players like David Cotterill, Clayton Donaldson and perhaps even promising youngster, Viv Solomon-Otabor.

Rafa Benitez has confirmed in his press conference that Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrović will start the game. The 22-year-old has been a hot topic of conversation for weeks now, but Benitez has also stated that he has no interest in selling him this month.

Players like Daryl Murphy, Grant Hanley and Achraf Lazaar are likely to make rare appearances, but Christian Atsu, Mo Diamé and Chancel Mbemba are all unavailable as they prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations with their respective National teams.

Sammy Ameobi made his return to Newcastle earlier in the week after his loan spell at Bolton, but having already played for the League One side in the competition, he will not be available for selection. Other academy prospects like Callum Roberts and Sean Longstaff may be given a place on the bench though.

The hosts will seek redemption after they were dismantled at St James’ Park in November. Newcastle know that promotion remains the priority, but a cup run may help increase confidence as we approach the business end of the season.

Likely Line Ups:

Birmingham: Kuszczak, Spector, Shotton, Grounds, Tesche, Davis, Cotterill, Donaldson, Solomon-Otabor, Jutkiewicz

Newcastle: Sels, Yedlin, Hanley, Clark, Lazaar, Hayden, Colback, Ritchie, Perez, Gouffran, Mitrovic

Score prediction: Birmingham 1-2 Newcastle

The game will not be televised on Saturday, but you can follow live commentary courtesy of BBC Radio Newcastle or check out our Twitter account where live match updates will be provided.