FA Cup Team News: Newcastle United
Watch Javi Gracia's pre-match press conference above, or read on below.
By Kevin Affleck
Will Hughes and Craig Cathcart will come into Javi Gracia’s thinking for the FA Cup game at Newcastle United after the Head Coach revealed both players are available for selection.
Hughes had to miss the last match with Burnley after suffering an early blow to the head against Crystal Palace. Cathcart was ruled out last week with a minor knee problem, but both are in the mix to feature against the Magpies in the fourth-round tie.
“Will Hughes is ready,” said the Head Coach. “He is training, Craig Cathcart as well. Both are available for the next game.”
Unavailable to Gracia are Sebastian Prödl, Kiko Femenía and Abdoulaye Doucouré.
“Sebastian is injured,” said Gracia. “He is in the recovery process. Kiko is injured after the last game. He has a little problem in his hamstring. He won't be available for the next game. Doucouré is the player that last week when I spoke to the medical staff, they told me maybe one or two days he could be available. But now he needs to rest and wait more time because he is out of the team. He needs more time to recover from a little problem with a ligament in his right knee. He will available in one week.”
Gracia changed the entire 11 for the game against Woking in the last round and he spoke like he was about to juggle his resources once more for the game at St James’ Park.
“I think we always try to choose the best option,” said Gracia. “It’s true in the last [FA Cup] game we changed a lot of players, thinking that option was the best for us in that moment because we played a lot of games, five in 15 days. It was necessary to change players for that game because they were in a better condition than the others.”
The Head Coach has spoken many times about how the team’s relative success this season has been based on the depth of the squad and how he trusts every single one of his players to perform to the level he requires. He will have no qualms about fielding the sort of side he did at Reading, at Milton Keynes and Woking, and he also points out that he picked what is perceived to be his strongest XI at St James' Park in November and the team lost 1-0.
“For sure we are going to change some players,” he said. “In this moment I don't know whether I will change 11, eight or two. We try to choose the best option to compete. We played two games against Newcastle and we didn't win. Maybe with other players we can do it. There are players not playing in the Premier League and maybe this is a good moment for them to play and show they are training and playing well. Some of them showed against Woking they are ready.”