For Newcastle United’s Sean Longstaff, Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Blackburn Rovers is a huge opportunity.
The Magpies are struggling in midfield, with standout performer in recent months Ki Sung-yueng away on Asia Cup duty with South Korea.
Mohamed Diame picked up what looked like a groin injury against Manchester United on Wednesday, meaning he could be out of action for a short while.
Jonjo Shelvey has only just returned to the first-team and is likely lacking some match fitness.
Then there is Isaac Hayden, who has made it clear that he still wants to leave the club.
Hayden has been in the side in absence of Ki, but Rafa Benitez may now wish to give Longstaff a go in the knowledge that Hayden will need to be sold.
Longstaff’s day of reckoning
Taking the current situation into account, the game carries huge importance for Longstaff, who has been biding his time waiting for a chance.
He recently made his senior debut against Liverpool at Anfield, a daunting experience no doubt.
He was brought on in the second half by Benitez during the 4-0 defeat and was afforded 17 minutes.
That will have wet his appetite, and seeing the state of the current squad, he will feel there’s a claim to be staked at St. James’ Park.
There is also no guarantee that owner Mike Ashley will stump up significant funds for transfers in January, meaning there’s even further emphasis on Longstaff impressing should he be given the opportunity.