• Newcastle play Manchester United on Wednesday
Much as Alan Pardew would be delighted to end Newcastle United's long-standing quest for a trophy by winning the League Cup, he acknowledges it ranks fourth in his list of priorities this season.
"Nothing would give our fans more pleasure than to win a trophy and I want to give them that," said Pardew ahead of Wednesday's tie at Manchester United. "But I think getting a Champions League place is probably the biggest thing we could win. It would be massive this season. Can we achieve that? I don't know. Next down is the FA Cup, then probably the Europa League and then the Capital One Cup."
For Newcastle's manager Wednesday's assignment at Old Trafford in the latter competition represents a tricky element in a broader juggling act. "As a manager, you're going to try to protect players for competitions you think are more important for your club's growth," he said.
"We are trying to grow here. We are trying to compete with clubs owned by sovereign states. They have finances way, way above us. But if you think as a manager, you would ever go into a game to lose it, that's ridiculous. Or not to go through in a competition. Of course, you want to go through."
While his Newcastle side is likely to be below full strength both Fabricio Coloccini and Cheik Tioté, newly fit following injury, are expected to start against Sir Alex Ferguson's team as they resume the hunt for the club's first domestic trophy since the 1955 FA Cup.
Manchester United's manager may cast covetous eyes at Pardew's overlapping, right-footed left-back Davide Santon. The 21-year-old former Internazionale defender is now displaying the sort of form that, as a teenager, had José Mourinho, his old manager at the San Siro describing him as "a phenomenon".
"Santon has been a revelation," said Pardew. "I think he's better than he was at Inter. He was a boy then and he was a boy last year too. He is a man now and is starting to play like a man. His raids from left-back are becoming potent.
"I think left-back is Davide's best position because he can go both ways. He's very comfortable going on the outside as well as cutting inside. He still has lots to learn but he's certainly making some inroads towards becoming a top Italian full-back. He's a young player who is starting to become very effective for us. I am really pleased with him."