Newcastle United make the trip to Yorkshire this evening to visit Sheffield Wednesday in their FA Cup third round clash, and Eddie Howe will be hoping that his team can comfortably secure progression into the next stage of the competition.
The Magpies are currently third in the Premier League after a phenomenal run of form in their first 18 games, although delivering a trophy at St James’ Park would be historic for the club, as they have failed to win a major domestic trophy since 1955.
Capitalising on that fantastic form could be Howe’s golden opportunity to become the first manager in almost seven decades to bring major silverware to Tyneside, so the clash against Sheffield Wednesday will be important to the former Bournemouth boss, who will likely field a strong line-up.
Having said that, the fixture against the League One side could be a great opportunity for the Magpies manager to give some of the first-teamers a rest ahead of the return to action in the Premier League against Fulham next week and hand starting appearances to those rarely seen in the squad.
One player that Howe should unleash against the Owls is out-of-favour left-back Jamal Lewis, who can come in to replace Dan Burn on the left flank.
The 24-year-old has only made two appearances for Newcastle this season – one in the Premier League and another in the Carabao Cup – tallying just 51 minutes of game-time, so today could be the perfect chance to give him a runout.
In his 45-minute appearance against Tranmere Rovers in the Carabao Cup, the £38k-per-week talent – who was dubbed “magic” by his former Norwich boss Daniel Farke – tallied an 84% pass accuracy, made 35 touches and won one tackle and one duel during his time on the pitch.
Howe spoke out about Lewis’ future at the club in his pre-match press conference on Friday ahead of this game, saying: “He’s trained very well and become accustomed to our principles of play.
“He’s done a lot of work behind the scenes. I’d back him to produce some very good performances for us now, if given the opportunity. For me, there’s never been a doubt about the quality of player. He’s a player we really like.”
“You get these situations with players. There’s never one situation that suits everybody – there’s the team’s needs and his needs. But fundamental to it is that we like him as a player and want his career to develop. Hopefully, he can achieve everything he wants to here.”
Should Jamal Lewis start for NUFC today?
With that being said, it would be a no-brainer for Howe to give Lewis the nod in his starting line-up at Hillsborough today and ultimately grant Burn a well-deserved rest along with a few others to ensure that the team can continue to compete at the highest level over the remainder of the season.