Rafa Benitez explains his thinking ahead of Newcastle's EFL Cup tie against Preston

Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic

Rafa Benitez says he will name a "strong team" for Newcastle United's EFL Cup tie against Preston North End.

The fourth-round game is followed by a Championship fixture against Simon Grayson's side at Deepdale on Saturday.

United manager Benitez, still without Daryl Murphy and Jesus Gamez, is mulling over his team for the cup match.

Aleksandar Mitrovic is one player who could come into his starting XI.

READ MORE: Newcastle sell 42k tickets for EFL Cup tie against Preston

"We are using different players for different games," said Benitez. "It will be a strong team, but different players.

"We have a mix of players who need some time on the pitch. They train well and work hard, so deserve to be on the pitch. We can use different players and they will perform at the level of the others."

Benitez is reluctant to look beyond the fourth round of competition.

Asked about the EFL Cup, he said: "I don’t think too much about winning trophies.

"I’m thinking about winning games, and that’s the most important thing if you want to win trophies later on."

On the unusual double header against Preston, Benitez added: "It’s a strange situation, but we will try and do well in the first meeting.

"We are trying to work in a way that means everybody is involved and know what they want to do.

"If we change players, you will see a difference in match fitness, but in terms of what they have to do, you won’t see much difference."

Take a look at and "like" our NUFC Facebook page here