Rafa Benitez won’t ‘risk’ Newcastle defender in EFL Cup tie

Dwight Gayle

Dwight Gayle

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Rafa Benitez won’t take any “risks” with his Newcastle United players tonight.

Benitez’s side take on Cheltenham Town at St James’s Park in the EFL Cup.

Some players, we will leave out because they have a few knocks and we don’t want to take a risk.

Rafa Benitez

Defender Ciaran Clark – who picked up a knock in Saturday’s Championship win over Bristol City – won’t be involved.

Benitez will rest a number of other players ahead of Saturday’s home game against second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion.

“Some players, we will leave out because they have a few knocks and we don’t want to take a risk,” said Benitez.

“Clark is one of them. Another one or two, I will decide just in case, but it is just for protection.”

The likes of Dwight Gayle, Isaac Hayden and Vurnon Anita – who have started all four of the club’s Championship fixtures – are likely to be rested by Benitez.

And goalkeeper Karl Darlow – who has started the season on the bench – could make his first appearance of the season.

Asked about his approach to the EFL Cup, United’s manager said: “We have to win the next game. That’s the most important thing.

“If they understand that they have to give everything, then we can see what happens.

“In the cup, I will try to get us to progress as much as we can, and it depends on how strong the squad is.

“If we can go to the semi-final or the final, then perfect. But if we cannot then maybe it is because the squad is not quite as strong. It depends on us every game.”

Meanwhile, there will be cash turnstiles at the Leazes End tonight. Admission will be £15 for adults and £5 for concessions.