Florian Thauvin’s been put on FA Cup standby at Newcastle United.
Steve McClaren is considering making four of five changes for this afternoon’s tie against Watford.
All I can say is I am prioritising this game and the priority is to go there, perform well and win it.Steve McClaren
And the relegation-threatened club’s head coach is ready to hand Thauvin a start at Vicarage Road.
Dutch forward Siem de Jong – who has been out of the first team in recent games – could also come into his team.
Thauvin, signed last summer, has been on the fringes at Newcastle in recent months, but McClaren feels the winger is ready to return to the starting XI.
Asked about the 22-year-old, McClaren said: “He is close to starting. He has been doing well.”
John Carver, McClaren’s predecessor, made seven changes just over a year ago for a third-round tie at Leicester City.
Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat at the King Power Stadium led to an angry backlash from fans.
United have never got past the fourth round of the FA Cup since Ashley bought the club.
But Ashley changed the club’s policy towards the cups in May – he promised that United would “definitely win something” under his ownership – but McClaren also is mindful of Tuesday night’s home game against Manchester United.
Newcastle are 18th in the league and two points adrift of safety.
“All I can say is I am prioritising this game, and the priority is to go there, perform well and win it,” said McClaren.
“And in our position, we need to gain some momentum and carry on with performances.
“We realise that, and quite honestly, we are not taking too big a risk. We will play as strong a team as we possibly can.”