Rafa Benitez reveals he will make changes for Chelsea tie, with one eye on Burnley clash

Newcastle defemder Florian Lejeune
Newcastle defemder Florian Lejeune

Rafa Benitez says he’ll have one eye on Burnley’s visit to St James’s Park when he names his FA Cup starting XI.

Newcastle United take on Chelsea tomorrow in a fourth-round tie at Stamford Bridge.

Everyone’s more or less available. We have to be careful, because some names are mentioned in the window. I don’t want to do anything wrong for the players.

Rafa Benitez

The fixture is followed by a Premier League home game against Burnley on Wednesday night.

Benitez, mindful of the importance of that match, will rotate his squad at Chelsea, though he’s unlikely to include any players who could be leaving the club, either on loan or permanent deals, before the transfer deadline.

“We have to find the balance,” said Benitez, whose side sit one point above the relegation zone.

“We can progress in any competition if we have a squad good enough to compete, but I’ll use the squad, for sure.

“Every game’s important, but we know how massive it is to stay in the Premier League, because of the money around.

“It is a win-win situation if you stay in the Premier League.

“We have to consider that, but we’ll try to do our best. We’ll try to do something.”

Benitez will not field a youthful team, like he did in the fourth round last year, when Newcastle were knocked out by Oxford United.

United’s manager said: “The young players? No, because we have enough players in the first-team squad.

“I need to find the balance between match fitness, and those who need to play.

“You have to be realistic. At the same time, you have the top-six team who are already there. Look at Bristol City (in the Carabao Cup), they did well, but they’re not there now.”

Meanwhile, defender Florian Lejeune is close to comeback from a foot injury.

“Lejeune has been running outside,” said Benitez.

“The only other one is (Jesus) Gamez. Everyone’s more or less available. We have to be careful, because some names are mentioned in the window. I don’t want to do anything wrong for the players.”