Rafa Benitez drops selection hint ahead of Newcastle's FA Cup replay

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez will field another weakened team in Newcastle United's FA Cup replay at Ewood Park.

Benitez's side came from behind to draw 1-1 with Blackburn Rovers at St James's Park earlier this month.

And United's manager – who made eight changes for that tie –could field an even weaker team in the third-round replay, having lost Jonjo Shelvey to injury in the first game.

Benitez – whose side is in the relegation zone – is grappling with a lengthy list of injuries and absences ahead of Saturday's home Premier League game against Cardiff City.

And "realistic" Benitez has warned supporters that he doesn't feel that he's in a position to attack the competition.

"We can talk about ‘oh the cups’, but a lot of teams went out of the FA Cup," said Benitez. "Why? Why are all the managers that were making decisions and their teams were having problems and they are out?

"Why Cardiff, Fulham, nearly Southampton, why you see these teams and they were out? Because the Premier League is massive. You have £130million guaranteed if you are there.

"So everyone is trying to manage the situation. Also, you have to be realistic. Who's in the final of the Carabao Cup? One of the top sides.

"And who can be in the final of the FA Cup? Now it’s even worse because the reserve team of one of these teams, they can beat another one. Who has a chance, a realistic chance?

"Teams in the middle of the table because they can have a go because they are safe. The other teams, you have to manage it really carefully. I will give you an example, because I read people saying ‘we have to do this, we have to do that, I don’t understand’.

"Listen, Jonjo Shelvey was playing the other day because we were trying to change and then win the game and avoid the replay – and he's injured now.

"What does that mean for us, with Ki (Sung-yueng) away, with (Yoshinori) Muto away? It's a risk.

"It's not that you have one week and you can recover the players. It's a risk, and you have to accept that it's a risk. After, you approach the game in one way or another way.

"But if you put this player in or the other one, maybe it doesn’t change anything, and then you take a massive risk."