It’s a fairly low key occasion that greets us today in our attempts to do what wasn’t in the script just a short time ago and that being attempting to win a cup game again.
In fact, it’s 11 years since we progressed further than this round which is shocking if you take away the aforementioned instruction that Mike Ashley inserted.
Aside from the failed reasoning behind it, the fact that Rafa Benitez is here now and being given some sort of freedom in certain areas should mean that we’ll at the very least be breaking a sweat and meet the expectation of being favourites to go through.
Changes from the last league game was always going to be obvious although what shouldn’t be underestimated from Rafa’s line up is that Oxford are only a league below us and with a full house of 12,500, this could very well be the banana skin of the round and the headline that the country will crave for.
Rafa makes a few changes from the win over Rotherham last week and although there’s a home game against QPR on Wednesday, that’s a fairly strong starting side who should have more than enough to avoid a dreaded replay.
Sels replaces Darlow in nets, Grant Hanley comes in and takes the armband. Mitrovic starts on his return from injury with young uns, Dan Barlaser and Yasin Ben El-Mahnni hoping to follow on from their efforts in the Birmingham replay.
The biggest surprise is perma-croc Curtis Good getting a start, see how long he lasts.
? Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) 28 January 2017
The subs bench has a bit of strength about it with it being this:
Rob Elliot, DeAndre Yedlin, Paul Dummett, Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Ritchie, Yoan Gouffran