Zabaleta, who has been an unused substitute in each of his team’s first three Premier League games of the new campaign, will be confident of playing from the start in the Carabao Cup clash at Rodney Parade.
This is the sort of game where, as a manager, you shuffle your pack and give some key players a rest. That is what West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini will surely do on Tuesday, and Zabaleta would appear to be an obvious candidate to benefit from that. The 34-year-old is very much in the twilight of his career now, and has settled into a role as Fredericks’ understudy so far this season. The former Fulham man hasn’t exactly set the world alight in the Premier League, but it’s unlikely that Zabaleta will dislodge him from league action just yet. With that said, a cup run-out would be ideal for the former Manchester City stalwart. Newport are potential banana-skin opponents for the Hammers, but having experienced operators like Zabaleta in the team reduces the risk of Pellegrini’s men getting caught cold. It could still happen, of course, but that won’t be for a lack of effort on the experienced right back’s part.