To Hull and back, but it could have been worse. Much worse.
The EFL Cup had been kind to Newcastle United up to last night’s quarter-final draw.
Rafa Benitez’s side, 12/1 to win the cup, had played their three fixtures – against Cheltenham Town, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Preston North End – at St James’s Park. Another home draw was too much to ask for.
Newcastle – who routed Preston 6-0 on Tuesday night – have nothing to fear. That wouldn’t have been the case had they been paired with Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, West Ham United or Southampton.
And the competition will not be a priority for struggling Hull City, who are 18th in the Premier League table and preoccupied with staying in the division.
Championship leaders United know just how difficult that can be.
Is it too early to dream of Wembley? No. Some fans are already dreaming. And why not? Why can’t United go to the new Wembley for the first time?
As it stands, Newcastle can compete on two fronts, though injuries – and suspensions – could yet impact Benitez between now and the end of next month.
Benitez made seven changes for the Preston game, yet the starting XI was very strong.
It wouldn’t have been out of place in the Championship. The tie also means a return to the KCOM Stadium for Mohamed Diame and Isaac Hayden, who helped Hull win promotion last year.
Is it too early to dream of Wembley? No. Some fans are already dreaming.
And why not? Why can’t United go to the new Wembley for the first time?
Benitez had it right when asked about Newcastle’s chances.
“Never say never,” he said.