Steve McClaren’s refused to reveal whether Fabricio Coloccini will play his first FA Cup tie in FOUR years.
The captain last played in the competition in January 2012, when Newcastle United beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 at St James’s Park.
McClaren’s side take on Watford at Vicarage Road this afternoon in a third-round tie.
And the head coach could make as many as four or five changes to the team which took on Arsenal last weekend.
Midfielder Jack Colback is unlikely to feature because of a hamstring problem and a couple more could be left out because of what McClaren described as “wear and tear”.
Coloccini’s non-involvement in the FA Cup in recent seasons has angered fans given his status as skipper.
The 33-year-old is in McClaren’s squad for the match, which is followed by Premier League home games against Manchester United and West Ham United next week.
Asked about Coloccini’s strange FA Cup record, McClaren gave little away, simply saying: “Well, he has trained all week. You will find out.”
McClaren may be mindful of the fact that Newcastle, 18th in the Premier League and two points adrift of safety, play three games in the space of eight games.
“You have got to evaluate the level of risk of everyone knowing there are three games in a week,” said the 54-year-old.
“They are all big games, and the biggest one is the next one.
“We are not thinking about Tuesday, and the consequences of whatever happens (at Watford).
“We want to be positive in terms of performance, and we want to win.
“Although we lost last week (at Arsenal), there has been a great buzz around the places from the players.
“You know that kind of football we played and the performance.
“We did not get a result from that so we just have to turn that into results.
“It is an old cliche, but I can seriously and honestly say we are prioritising the Watford game.
“The priority is to get a strong team out.”
United were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Sheffield Wednesday in September.
United’s season has unravelled further since that awful night, but McClaren has insisted that he still wants to go far in the FA Cup, despite the precarious league position.
“I think everyone understands the way we are and the situation and what needs to be done,” he said.
“We tried to do that in the Capital One Cup and that didn’t work well, but the FA cup is different. It is a Saturday.
“Granted, we have another two games coming up.
“Three in a week is always tough, and the level you need to play to win games.
“I would say, arguably, this is one of the toughest draws of the round.
“Watford are very strong at home and are flying at moment.
“We could play our strongest, still get beaten and still probably get accused of ‘why did he play that lot’?”
McClaren added: “We need to win the game.
“We need a damn good team out there, a team that can compete and has the possibility of winning.
“It is not as if we are at home to lower league opposition.
“Watford are flying high and we have to be strong.”