Eddie Howe denied Newcastle are on a revenge mission against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup as the Magpies boss weighs up his diminishing options for the fourth-round clash.
Newcastle’s long wait for a first domestic trophy since 1955 was extended by Erik ten Hag’s United, who claimed a 2-0 victory in last season’s final between the teams at Wembley in February.
United have been in patchy form this season and come into Tuesday’s encounter at Old Trafford reeling from being outclassed in the Manchester derby at the weekend as City walked away with a 3-0 win.
But Howe anticipates Premier League form can be parked to one side for now, with both sides set to ring the changes, and he was adamant vengeance for eight months ago is not a motivation ahead of the trip.
Howe said: “That’s not our emotion as I sit here now. Our emotion is just to try to prepare and win the game. One win and we’re into the quarter-final of the competition. We loved our run in it last year.
“Manchester United are a top team with top players. One of the key tests of any team is how you respond to setbacks. That’s always what you’re looking to do when you’re in the manager’s position.
“They’ve got some very good results lately and have won some games late. Whenever you play Manchester City, as we know they’re very, very difficult games.
“When you go into a cup tie, to a degree you leave that form behind. This is a one-off game and I’m sure both teams will be motivated to try and win.”
Injuries to several first-team players – including Alexander Isak, Harvey Barnes and Jacob Murphy – have been exacerbated by Sandro Tonali being handed a 10-month ban for breaching betting rules.
Joe Willock has made a couple of substitute appearances since a long injury lay-off and Callum Wilson and Joelinton have shrugged off issues of their own, but Howe is wary of overburdening some players.
Howe admitted he is uncharted territory as the Champions League has increased Newcastle’s workload – they play Borussia Dortmund next week after welcoming Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday.
He said: “You just have to roll with the punches, absorb the hits and that’s what we’re going to try to do. It’s not ideal for us, especially with the season to last year – it’s a totally different feel.
“We’re not in that position now so we’re going to need everybody in the squad to step up. The key message is everyone has to give a bit more. To not use our squad (on Tuesday) would be really foolish.
“(Last season) whet the appetite for us, we want this on a more regular basis, we’re determined to get back there. That’s the challenge for us – can we? Tomorrow will dictate what we do in this competition.
“It’s going to be a bit of a juggling act for us, but we do have the players that can be flexible and can play different positions. It’s one of the strengths of our squad.”
Anthony Gordon could be up front in place of Wilson while Lewis Hall may start, having struggled for minutes since moving to Tyneside, initially on loan with an obligation to buy, from Chelsea.
Howe added: “He has a big role. He’s a talented player, he can play various positions for us which in our current position we’re going to need. The best is yet to come, without a doubt.
“He’s been training well and adapting to quite a big change in his life so for such a young player to move from London and settle in here, I think he’s done it well.”