Manchester United vs. Newcastle United, English League Cup round 3: Preview

Michael Regan - Getty Images

Manchester United have a few injury problems as they face Newcastle at Old Trafford, but Darren Fletcher and even Wayne Rooney could return.

Manchester United will begin adjusting to a period without captain Nemanja Vidic when they take on Newcastle United in the English League Cup third round tonight.

The United captain underwent surgery and will be missing for eight weeks, while Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are also absent. There is a possibility that Wayne Rooney may feature at some point as he returns from injury, but more worryingly for United is the suggestion that Antonio Valencia could be facing a spell on the sidelines.

There is one good piece of injury news for the Red Devils, however - Darren Fletcher is expected to make his first start tonight for ten months after recovering from an illness. United are likely to field a weakened team elsewhere, and that could mean the opportunity to see the likes of Nick Powell in action for the Red Devils. One or both of Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez will surely start up front, while fellow summer signing Angelo Henriquez as well as academy prospects Larnell Cole and Jesse Lingard could be in line for a place on the substitutes bench.

For Newcastle, former United man Danny Simpson is absent along with Ryan Taylor, with goalkeeper Tim Krul also expected to miss the match. Toon boss Alan Pardew has stated that Cheick Tiote would make a return from injury, but elsewhere Newcastle's line-up will be hard to predict. Fringe players Sylvain Marveaux, Haris Vuckic and Gael Bigirimana could all feature at some point.

It's a game that both sides will be trying to win, and Newcastle may smell blood if United do field an inexperienced team, but the Magpies have not gotten off to as strong a start to the season as they did last year, and Pardew may want to keep his squad fresh too. At the very least, it should be an entertaining game, with both sides playing to progress and a chance to see some young and exciting players in action for both sides.

For more on all things Manchester United, check out SB Nation blog The Busby Babe.

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