More than £50 million of talent could take the field when Newcastle United travel to Accrington Stanley for their Carling Cup second round clash.
Newcastle managed to keep hold of most of their star names after suffering relegation from the Premier League in May 2009.
It helped the Toon Army storm to the Championship title last season with a mammoth 102 points, despite many of their international stars finding themselves in the unfamiliar surroundings of Scunthorpe and Doncaster.
They are in for another rude awakening at the Crown Ground on Wednesday when Reds’ manager John Coleman will be hoping the only noticeable difference between the two teams is the gulf in resources and not in class.
Only three of Newcastle’s starting XI during their 3-0 defeat to Manchester United cost nothing – Steve Harper, James Perch and Andy Carroll – while Coleman is likely to field 10 free transfers on Wednesday night.
The only paid-for player likely to be on show is Sean McConville, a £5,000 capture from non-league Skelmersdale, while the most expensive player in Newcastle’s ranks at Old Trafford on Monday night was Argentinian defender Fabricio Coloccini, who cost £10.3 million from Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna in 2008. Midfielder Alan Smith cost £6m from Manchester United.
The Accy money-men will be licking their lips at the prospect of the money-spinning tie, with the £150,000 fee from Sky enough to cover Stanley’s entire wage budget for around four months.
The fee, which will also be paid to Newcastle, will only cover an eighth of their weekly wage bill, reported to be approximately £1.2 million.