The strength in depth of Newcastle United's squad will be put to the test when they take on Manchester United in the League Cup fourth round on Wednesday.
Newcastle are now having to settle into a regular pattern of three games a week as they attempt to juggle domestic competitions with taking part in a first Champions League campaign for two decades.
Last week saw them take on Crystal Palace, Borussia Dortmund and Wolves in the space of seven days, before tackling Erik ten Hag's United and then Arsenal at St James' Park on Saturday. “That's our season, especially until Christmas,” Magpies manager Eddie Howe told reporters on Tuesday. “It's a busy period with a lot of games.”
Injuries are already taking their toll with defender Sven Botman, wingers Harvey Barnes and Jacob Murphy, plus striker Alexander Isak all currently out of action. They were also hit with a 10-month ban to star midfield signing Sandro Tonali last week for breaching betting rules while at former club AC Milan.
The absentees means Howe will name a much-changed side for the fourth-round tie at Old Trafford against the team that beat them in last year's final.
“It shows how football can change very quickly, you can have a game where you lose one or two players and the dynamic of the squad changes,” Howe said. “You have to roll with the punches.
“It is not ideal for us, especially with the season we have, we could absorb those punches with the week to week games – we are not in that position now. We are going to need everyone in the squad to step up, give a bit more. I said that pre-campaign, everyone has a role to play.
“When you're not playing, we have players who are frustrated, everyone wants to be on that starting team sheet. Players have to make me doubt my next team sheet, and wonder what the next selection will be. They have to train well, I see that every day, but these are big opportunities when we do rotate the team.”
Wolves 2 Newcastle 2: Player ratings
Newcastle are enjoying a good run of performances with last week's home defeat by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League their only loss in 10 games across competitions.
Sunday saw them take the lead twice against Wolves before eventually having to settle for a point after an entertaining 2-2 draw at Molineux that leaves them sixth in the Premier League.
Their opponents on Wednesday, meanwhile, go into the game on the back of a dispiriting 3-0 Manchester derby defeat against City at Old Trafford which also saw Ten Hag's decision to substitute young striker Rasmus Hojlund in the second half met with loud jeers by home fans.
The Red Devils have now lost half of their Premier League games this season, their most defeats from the opening 10 games of a league campaign since 1986/87.
But Howe, who made 10 changes to his starting XI when they knocked out treble-winning City in the previous round, insists Newcastle must be wary of a United side looking to bounce back from their derby disaster.
“I'm probably better off telling you that after the game,” added Howe when asked whether they were facing United at a good time. “Man United are a top team with top players; they will possibly rotate their squad, but I think one of the key tests of any team is how you respond to setbacks.
“We had one of those against Borussia Dortmund, and had a good response against Wolves.”