The League Cup has recently been seen as a place to blood youngsters, but there are a lot of household names who need playing time at the moment, and the fixtures over the next couple of evenings might be the perfect chance to remind their managers of what they can do.
Michael Dawson - having been very nearly shipped out to QPR over the summer, Dawson has not had a first team opportunity since deciding to stay at Spurs. With Villas-Boas quite rightly intent on playing his best team in the Europa League, Dawson's only chance to get some minutes may be in the League Cup. Steven Caulker, currently ahead of Dawson in the pecking order, may also play, so this could be the ex-Nottingham Forest man's best chance to show what he can offer in comparison to the young star.
Mauro Boselli - Roberto Mancini has stated that players who perform in Wigan's cup tie at West Ham, and the Argentinian striker may be one who gets a chance to stake a claim. Having already impressed in their previous round victory over Nottingham Forest, the striker may be able to push himself into league action with another good performance. Having been loaned back to Argentina last season, where he finished as top scorer, Boselli might be on his last chance at Wigan this season, and needs to begin starting first team matches as soon as possible.
Mario Balotelli - The combustable Italian has recently returned from his eye surgery, and is now facing up to the unenviable challenge of breaking into Manchester City's first eleven in a position where Carlos Tevez could only make the bench at the weekend. A League Cup start would give Balotelli the perfect opening to remind Mancini of the unpredictable talent he can bring to the side, especially when City have looked a little flat going forward recently.
Stewart Downing - In the normal course of things, tomorrow night's match at West Brom would be the chance for Raheem Sterling to show his talents. Instead the youngster is a regular in the Liverpool starting line-up, and Downing is the one who is looking to break into the team. His career at Liverpool has been a disaster so far, and this season will be crucial to his future for both club and country. He performed well in the recent Europa League match, if given the opportunity, another strong showing against West Brom will be a start in his attempts at Anfield redemption.
Theo Walcott - Though still playing regularly for Arsenal in the league, Walcott has stated he would like to play as a striker for Wenger's side. With Olivier Giroud likely to be given another chance to open his Gunner's account against Coventry, Walcott may not start in his desired role, but if he can grab a goal from the wing, and the Frenchman continues his sluggish start, he may be able to enhance his claims to play upfront. Gervinho is currently operating as a forward in the league and Europe, if Walcott can demonstrate a more clinical edge than the Ivorian, he may be able to challenge for that position.
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