Spartans could be facing the Black Cats

BLYTH Spartans have the carrot of an FA Cup fourth round tie against Sunderland to look forward to – if they overcome Blackburn tonight.

BLYTH Spartans have the carrot of an FA Cup fourth round tie against Sunderland to look forward to – if they overcome Blackburn tonight.

And League One giant-killers Hartlepool, who beat Premier League Stoke, are happy at the prospect of West Ham’s visit to Victoria Park.

Assistant manager Ian Butterworth said: “It’s a fantastic draw for the club. We’re at home, pitting our wits against a Premier League side and if the lads can produce the performance of yesterday, we’ll give them one hell of a game.”

Newcastle, should they beat Hull in their third-round replay, could play host to Dennis Wise’s former club Millwall if the Londoners win their replay at Crewe.

Middlesbrough await the winners of the Midlands derby after Birmingham and Wolves’ match was the victim of Saturday’s freeze.

The tie of the round, however, is the Merseyside derby at Anfield after Liverpool and Everton were the first two balls drawn out.

The Cup match will be only a week after the pair meet at the same ground in the league, and days after Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is due in court to face assault and affray charges.

Former Everton defender Kevin Ratcliffe admitted it was not the draw the Toffees would have hoped for.

He said: “The FA Cup is one that maybe Everton thought they could go all the way in.

“Obviously this has made it a bit harder. It’s hard enough going up against Liverpool but when you’re without your main strikers then it’s going to be difficult.”

A second heavyweight Premier League clash sees Manchester United, who beat Southampton 3-0 yesterday, hosting Tottenham.

Arsenal travel to last year’s beaten finalists Cardiff, and Bluebirds chairman Peter Ridsdale hopes the Ninian Park crowd can help them again.

He said: “Clearly this is an amazing draw for us. ”

The ties will be played over the weekend of January 24/25.

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