Rafael Benitez has almost a full squad to choose from as we seek to overturn a first leg Europa League deficit against Steaua Bucharest.
Last week’s defeat in Romania has left us needing a victory to progress into the last eight, but the Spaniard knows it will not be easy despite our impressive display against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Two goals down after 10 minutes, we battled back to earn an FA Cup replay, adding to the fixture congestion of an already packed calendar.
‘I can do nothing about that so I must concentrate on my job and try to do my best preparing the team for every competition,’ Benitez said on Wednesday lunchtime.
‘The next game is the priority. I have to pick the team for the next game and ensure it’s a very competitive team for each competition.
‘Some players like centre-backs and goalkeepers can play more games. Wingers, full-backs, strikers, it is more difficult because of the intensity of their runs. It depends on the players. If you have a player who is fit and recovers quickly it is easier than someone who is older and needs more time. You have to analyse everything and decide what to do. It is difficult.’
Benitez may opt to rotate his squad from that which impressed in the north-west at the weekend. There are just two absentees from his list of available players, one through suspension, the other ineligibility.
‘Apart from Oriol Romeu, the others are available so we can decide what we want to do. Obviously Demba Ba cannot play,’ the manager reported.
This is a competition Benitez is determined to win, and to do so he knows we must beat a stern Steaua side.
‘We are in the Europa League and will try to do our best. If you progress it is a good competition but you have to carry on until the end,’ he said.
‘The scouts told us to be careful, it’s a good team and we knew it would be tough. We will see if we can do our game at Stamford Bridge, see if they can cope with the intensity, but we have a lot of respect because it’s a very good team.’