JAMIE HILL - Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The third round matches in the FA Cup were drawn out of the pot on Sunday night, setting the stage for a busy Wednesday in early 2011.
This draw marks the entrance of all Premier League and Championship squads, meaning that the clubs of no fewer than 14 Americans will be in action on January 8.
All six Yank-affiliated Premier League clubs face lower-division opposition, which could become a valuable opportunity for reserve players to make an impression. Two such players are Eric Lichaj and Brad Guzan, who will hope to receive the starting nod when Aston Villa travels to Sheffield United.
Meanwhile, a home game against Barnsley could be the lifeline that Jonathan Spector has been looking for since being frozen out of the lineup since the early season. Another squad player on the prowl for a solid chance is Eddie Johnson, who may be involved in Fulham's home tie against Peterborough.
Regular starters like Clint Dempsey, Stuart Holden, Tim Howard, and Brad Friedel could play, but it would hardly be a shock if their coaches chose to rest them against lower tier opposition.
Marcus Hahnemann's situation may be the hardest to predict as he is currently locked in a battle for the #1 shirt at Wolves with Welsh netminder Wayne Hennessey. Hahnemann was benched for the first time this season over the past weekend.
Derby County and Conor Doyle await the result of the 2nd round replay between Crawley Town and Swindon Town. While Doyle has dressed for almost every league match this season, the club is bringing the young forward along slowly and thus far has afforded him little playing time. The FA Cup may be deemed the proper time to test the waters with the Irish-American up top.
Carlisle will make the long trek to Devonshire in order to take on Torquay United. Frank Simek is likely to suit up at right back, where he has been an iron man this season -- a welcome change from his injury-plagued recent past.
Mike Grella's loan to Carlisle will lapse on January 1, so the former Duke forward should be available for Leeds United's daunting trip to Arsenal.
Wycombe's Jon-Paul Pittman and Norwich's Zak Whitbread remain out with injury troubles.
FA Cup Third Round Draw
Fulham vs. Peterborough United
Doncaster Rovers vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Crawley Town or Swindon Town vs. Derby County
West Ham United vs. Barnsley
Sheffield United vs. Aston Villa
Bolton Wanderers vs. York City
Wycombe Wanderers vs. Hereford United or Lincoln City
Scunthorpe United vs. Everton
Arsenal vs. Leeds United
Norwich City vs. Droylsden or Leyton Orient
Torquay United vs. Carlisle United