Rafa ready for Preston on double
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez will take things one game at a time as he prepares his squad to face Preston twice in a week - with securing a place in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup first on the agenda.
A quirk of the fixture schedule has seen the Sky Bet Championship leaders drawn at home to North End in their fourth-round tie tonight before then travelling to Deepdale for a league match on Saturday.
It is a similar situation which the Magpies faced in the last round during September, when they lost at home to Wolves in the Championship only to then win 2-0 away in the cup tie a few days later.
Benitez is expected to give fringe players another chance to impress, but whatever side he sends out in front of a bumper 40,000-plus crowd at St James' Park, it will be one to tackle the job at hand.
"It is a strange situation but we must focus on the first game," Benitez said at a press conference.
"What happened against Wolves (in the league) meant we had to perform better in the second game (in the cup).
"We have to do well in the first one this time."
Benitez added: "We are trying to work in a way where everybody is involved. If we change players you will see the difference in match fitness."
Preston have beaten both high-flyers Huddersfield and Norwich in their last two matches as Simon Grayson's well-organised team close up on the top six.
North End assistant manager Glynn Snodin knows the team will face a stern test of their own credentials in both games against Newcastle, who have won six out of their previous seven.
"We know what to expect (at Newcastle). Their fans love their football and they get right behind them. We have to make sure we try and quieten them down as early we can," he said.