Newcastle United can take their minds off of Premier League survival for a brief period on Saturday evening, as they play host to Championship side Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup third round at St James’ Park.
This is the second year in succession that the Magpies have hosted lower league opposition at this stage of the famous competition, with Luton Town the visitors to Tyneside at this time last term.
Newcastle ran out comfortable winners on that occasion, and it would do their morale no harm if they could pick up a similar result against Tony Mowbray’s charges on Saturday evening.
Benitez resisted making changes to his side against the Hatters last season, but with the Magpies in a much more perilous position in the Premier League this term, it is expected that he will make wholesale switches to his line up, as the Spaniard confirmed ahead of the encounter.
“For us, we have to approach the game trying to win with the best team possible that we can use, using at the same time players who have not been involved,” the Newcastle official website quote him as saying.
“They have to show something, they have to work hard, and I want to keep the good atmosphere in the dressing room.
“That means that players who don’t have a chance in the Premier League, some of them will have a chance now, and they have to be ready to prove that they can play. If we go through, they can play more games, so I think it’s just the right approach at the moment.”
Among the men to come in could be Ciaran Clark, who is fit again, while Florian Lejeune and Sean Longstaff are also available for Newcastle in the match.
One man who will not feature for the Magpies is powerful midfielder Mo Diame, as he picked up a knock in midweek. Federico Fernandez and Karl Darlow will also miss the tie.