According to NUFC Blog, Newcastle manager Rafa Benítez has said that academy products Sean Longstaff and Jamie Sterry, as well as new signing Yoshinori Muto, are poised to start in tonight’s League Cup fixture against Nottingham Forest.
While it is good that different players are getting game time, as well the squad being rotated, Benítez simply cannot afford to lose tonight.
After only picking up one point in three games in the Premier League, against newly-promoted Cardiff, Newcastle are on the cusp of a crisis. The ongoing rift between Mike Ashley and everyone else associated with The Magpies does not look like it will stop, and while everything is going sour off the field, Newcastle must make sure that it does not spill into their performances on the field. Otherwise this could be a very troubling season for the Tyneside club.
Newcastle were knocked out of the League Cup against Championship outfit Nottingham Forest last year at the same stage, for history to repeat itself would be inexcusable. That is why, although it is good to rest players and give younger players game time, it is important that Benítez does not decimate his team.
Unfortunately, Newcastle travel to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to face Premier League champions Man City. While that is of course a tough game, it is not as important as tonight’s fixture. Any team in Europe that goes to the Etihad this season will be expected to lose – bar none. There’s no pressure on them on Saturday, but there certainly is tonight.
Everyone at Newcastle will no that anything less than a win tonight can throw the club into turmoil, and Benítez must act accordingly.