Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez faces the media, policing plan for Luton's 7,500 fans

Rafa Benitez will face the media today ahead of Luton Town's visit to St James's Park.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 5th January 2018, 10:18 am
Updated Friday, 5th January 2018, 10:50 am
Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Newcastle United take on the League Two leaders in the FA Cup's third round tomorrow.

Benitez will hold his pre-match press conference at 1,30pm this afternoon.

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Luton players Elliot and Olly – sons of former United midfielder Rob – spoke to journalists yesterday.

Here's your daily briefing:

Family affair

Rob Lee says the tie is a "dream come true" for him and his family.

Lee, a mainstay of Newcastle's midfield for a decade, will be back at St James's Park with his family for the game to watch Elliot and Olly.

"It's the next best thing to pulling on a black and white shirt," said Lee.

"For our family it’s the best tie we could have even thought of. To get the boys back at St James’s Park where I played for 10 years is a dream come true and I’m sure the Geordies will give them a Geordie reception.

“It’s going to be immense. They both grew up in Newcastle, that’s where they had their first kits."

Big following

Luton are brining 7,500 fans at St James's Park for the FA Cup tie.

Northumbria Police have a plan in place to manage the large following.

Chief Inspector Jamie Pitt said: "We are delighted to be involved in the policing of a good old fashioned 3pm FA Cup third-round game, and are expecting an excellent atmosphere this weekend.

"Luton Town fans will be travelling in large numbers, so it is appropriate and proportionate for us to put a policing operation in place to minimise any disruption to the city.

"We will be working closely with the football club, the local authority and the British Transport Police to make sure we can enjoy the atmosphere and tradition of the FA Cup third-round weekend.

"However, if anyone does have any concerns, whether you are a visitor to the city or a football fan, then please do stop our officers and say hello."

Big changes?

Benitez will outline his approach to the game at his press conference.

United's manager is certain to make changes for the fixture.

Benitez, mindful of next Saturday's Premier League home game against Swansea City, is keen to rest a number of his key players after the hectic festive period.

Newcastle were knocked out of the FA Cup at the fourth-round stage last season by Oxford United.

Benitez, without Aleksandar Mitrovic (back), Jesus Gamez (ankle) and Florian Lejeune (foot), made nine changes at the Kassam Stadium.

Newcastle are 13th in the table.

Meanwhile, Luton manager Nathan Jones has a defensive crisis on his hands ahead of the team's visit to Tyneside.

Back in Toon?

United forward Adam Armstrong is back at the club after his loan at Bolton Wanderers expired.

The 20-year-old, used out wide by the Championship club, is set for another loan away from St James's Park.

Armstrong and club-mate Freddie Woodman won the World Cup with England's Under-20s last summer.