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Crocked Magpies could come unstuck

Birmingham celebrate a goal
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FA Cup third-round replays

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez would have probably chosen to make a few changes for their FA Cup replay against Birmingham, but his hand has been forced.

Mohamed Diame, Chrisitan Atsu and Chancel Mbemba are at the Africa Cup of Nations and injuries, including those to key forwards Alex Mitrovic and Dwight Gayle, mean he has 16 senior players available for the clash against the Blues, including three goalkeepers.

Jonjo Shelvey returns in midfield after a five-match ban, but there seems little scope for easing the former Liverpool man back into action. He will have to hit the ground running.

Consequently, the odds on Birmingham progressing appear on the big side.

The Blues have not gained a victory in the six games since Gianfranco Zola surprisingly replaced Gary Rowett as manager, but this could be a decent opportunity if Benitez has to field a youthful side.

They will also be keen for revenge after their 4-0 thumping at St James’ Park last month.

With both teams likely to make changes when Southampton play Norwich it is difficult to make concrete betting plans, but the Canaries have won just one of their last 15 FA Cup ties against Premier League opposition.

Recommendation
Birmingham to qualify
1pt 10-3 Betfair, Hills

Birmingham have not gained a victory in the six games since Gianfranco Zola took over as manager, but this could be a decent opportunity if Benitez has to field a youthful side
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