Steve Bruce has urged injury-ravaged Newcastle to embrace the FA Cup as they attempt to avoid a third-round giant-killing at League One Rochdale.
The Magpies will head for the Crown Oil Arena will as many as 11 players missing after a bruising festive programme left the dressing room resembling an army field hospital.
However head coach Bruce, an FA Cup winner during his playing days with Manchester United, is relishing the tie despite having five of his six specialist central defenders missing.
He said with a smile: “We’re not going to win the Premier League – I don’t think we’re going to catch Liverpool this year – but we’ve got a chance in the FA Cup, so let’s embrace it, let’s bring it on and have a go.
“The FA Cup is the FA Cup, so we have to get prepared, get ready for it and we know that we’ve got a game on our hands.
“The TV cameras are there. They’re there for one reason – to see if there is a shock, so we have to guard against that, be mentally tough enough to take it on, forget about the injuries and get on with it and make sure that we get through.”
The stage may be set for a shock with the Magpies likely to be without Javier Manquillo, Jetro Willems, Fabian Schar, Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, Florian Lejeune, Paul Dummett, Jonjo Shelvey, Jack Colback, Allan Saint-Maximin and Andy Carroll, but that has not deterred Bruce.
He led Hull to the final in 2014 and saw them take a 2-0 lead over Arsenal at Wembley before eventually losing 3-2, and while Newcastle’s recent history in the competition is dreadful – they have not made the fifth round since 2006 – he is hoping for a similar run.
He said: “I said when I walked through the door, we’re a club that can genuinely compete for it. Whether we’re good enough to win it, who knows?
“But the draw can be kind to you and a few years ago, we got there with Hull and if you ask the Hull supporters what they remember, playing in the Premier League or promotion or whatever, they’ll say the FA Cup final at Wembley.
“It’s there for every Premier League team. You can win five games and get to Wembley. Why not?”
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