FA fear replay fixture pile up

The Football Association will be keeping their fingers crossed that north London duo Tottenham and Arsenal, plus Manchester City avoid the need for FA Cup fourth round replays this weekend.

With internationals and European fixtures due to resume next month, midweek replay dates are more troublesome to find.

And for the three Premier League clubs concerned, draws with Fulham, Huddersfield or Notts County respectively this weekend would almost certainly mean the rematches taking place on February 19, the date set aside for the fifth round.

As a full programme of top-flight matches is scheduled for next midweek, and England tackle Denmark in Copenhagen on February 9, fourth round replays are scheduled for February 15-16.

However, Tottenham and Arsenal have Champions League matches that week, whilst City travel to Greece for the first leg of their last-32 clash with Aris.

The worst-case scenario for the FA would be all three cup ties requiring replays, then all three teams being drawn in different fifth round ties to each other, which would mean just five out of the eight matches being played as planned.

The knock-on effects could send the entire competition out of sync, with either internationals or European games filling every midweek between the sixth round on March 12, and the semi-finals, which are due to take place at Wembley five weeks later.

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