Exclusive: One major Newcastle weakness could be ‘devastating’ for Howe’s EFL Cup hopes

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Manchester United and Newcastle United are preparing to face off for the chance to lift the first piece of major silverware of the season.

The two teams, who booked their places in the final recently, will meet at Wembley on Sunday for the chance to be crowned the 2022-23 EFL Cup champions.

For Newcastle, Sunday’s final probably couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Magpies are enduring their worst slump of the season and will be without first-choice goalkeeper Nick Pope following a blatant handball outside of his area against Liverpool on the weekend which resulted in a straight red card.

Consequently, not only are the Magpies winless in their last three matches, but Eddie Howe must now find a way to get the best out of emergency backup shot-stopper Lloris Karius.

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However, even though Newcastle will already be big underdogs to lift the trophy for the reasons mentioned above, former Liverpool attacker Stan Collymore has identified another potential weakness for Erik Ten Hag’s Red Devils to exploit.

Picking up on the fact right-back Kieran Trippier is tasked with taking his side’s set pieces, even those on the opposite flank, as demonstrated in the lead-up to Pope’s sending-off, Collymore believes some smart play from United in next weekend’s final could lead to their attack being given chances to score.

“Newcastle United’s Kieran Trippier is a great set-piece taker, we all know that, but for him to be taking free kicks, especially deep ones, on the left flank makes little sense to me,” Collymore said in an exclusive interview.

“With an EFL Cup final coming up, I wonder if Man United have picked up on that and highlighted it as an area of potential weakness because if Trippier finds himself out on the left taking a free kick and United pinch it back quickly, they’ve got someone in Marcus Rashford who they could look to play in quickly and it could be devastating for Newcastle.”

The EFL Cup final is scheduled to kick off at 4.30 p.m (UK time) on Sunday and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.

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