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Blackburn v Newcastle preview: Rafa Benitez defends FA Cup selection policy ahead of replay at Ewood Park on Tuesday

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has defended his selection policy for the FA Cup as he makes surviving in the Premier League his top priority.

The Magpies boss has been heavily criticised by the club's fans for fielding a weakened line-up when his side were held 1-1 at home by Blackburn in the third round.

Newcastle, who will replay at Ewood Park on Tuesday, slipped into the Premier League's bottom three at the weekend after losing 2-1 at Chelsea.

"We can talk about 'oh the cups', but a lot of teams went out of the FA Cup. Why?" Benitez said.

"Why are all the managers that were making decisions and their teams were having problems and they are out?

"Why Cardiff, Fulham, nearly Southampton, why you see these teams and they were out? Because the Premier League is massive.

"You have £130million guaranteed if you are there. So everyone is trying to manage the situation. Also, you have to be realistic.

"Who has a chance, a realistic chance? Teams in the middle of the table because they can have a go because they are safe. The other teams, you have to manage it really carefully."

All the latest rumours, reports and singings in the January transfer window
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Benitez cited the injury sustained by Jonjo Shelvey against Blackburn.

Shelvey missed out at Stamford Bridge due to a calf strain, while Benitez is also without fellow midfielders Mo Diame (hip) and Ki Sung-yueng, who is at the Asian Cup with South Korea.

"I will give you an example because I read people saying 'we have to do this, we have to do that, I don't understand'.

"Listen, Jonjo Shelvey was playing the other day because we were trying to change and then win the game and avoid the replay - and he is injured now.

"What does that mean for us, with Ki away, with Muto (Yoshinoro) away? It is a risk. It is not that you have one week and you can recover the players.

"It is a risk and you have to accept that it is a risk. After, you approach the game in one way or another way.

"But if you put this player in or the other one, maybe it doesn't change anything, and then you take a massive risk."

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Most Read Football

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package1

Saturday's Premier League tips

Mark your card for Saturday's 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League with the best bets, Super 6 predictions and top stats for each game.

Jose Mourinho2

Mourinho aiming for top job

Jose Mourinho insists he is still in the market for a top level job in football, as he defended his time at Manchester United due to what was going on behind the scenes.

The latest done deals and transfer rumours with Sporting Life
3

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Keep up with all the latest transfer news reports and rumours along with the details of all the done deals and latest betting odds.

Paul Pogba celebrates4

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Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages5

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Aaron Wan-Bissaka is attracting interest from top Premier League clubs and Man City to be priced out of race for Dutch star, according to the back pages.

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