Replay gives food for thought

Alan Curbishley has plenty to ponder as he considers his options before the FA Cup replay at Manchester City on Wednesday night.

As in the first meeting between the sides back on 5 January at the Boleyn Ground, the manager will again be out to treat the competition with the respect it deserves. That said, he is also conscious that the likes of Robert Green, Matthew Upson and George McCartney have featured in every one of the club's 21 league games - with the latter also playing all five cup games to date as well.

"I have got a bit of thinking to do about the cup game," Curbishley said. "The back five have played all the football. I will have to look at that." Also in his thinking will be his confidence that Lucas Neill is available after hamstring trouble caused him to miss the weekend win against Fulham while James Collins was again an unused substitute and will be hungry to get a game.

"I keep going on week in, week out and saying how well the defence have been doing - not many clubs could have sustained the injury list we have had. We have been in double figures on a lot of occasions and they have stood firm. Robert Green, Lucas Neill, Matthew Upson and George McCartney have stayed quite strong and the other centre-halves have fitted in there."

Mindful of a league trip to the City of Manchester Stadium as well on Sunday, the manager added: "We are playing them again on Sunday so I have got to shake it up a bit and see where we come out. We are going to have a go and we do feel that the cup is a competition we can attack." The prospect of a fourth-round tie at Sheffield United on 27 January will also give both sides the incentive to go all out for victory.

Hoping to figure again will be Julien Faubert, with the manager still keen to take things slowly with a player who had been out for six months before Saturday's brief run-out but aware also of the potential the winger offers with his "tremendous pace". He added: "He has been out for a long while but we will see what this week brings.

"He has joined in training the last couple of weeks and some of the players hadn't seen him. He's come into training and they have had a good look at him and they have all been asking 'when's he going to be fit?' It was probably a little bit too early on Saturday but I decided to give it a go because I felt if he got 20 minutes he could change the game. I have got to be a little bit careful with him."