Burton Albion will be without John Brayford for Wednesday's (20 September) plum cup tie against in-form Manchester United as manager Nigel Clough admits that a number of players are carrying minor knocks following a hard-fought 2-1 Championship win over Fulham at the weekend.
Clough favourite Brayford featured for 90 minutes of that first-ever defeat of the Cottagers in the third match of his third stint at the Pirelli Stadium, yet his involvement in former club Sheffield United's second-round clash with Walsall last month means he is now ineligible for the Carabao Cup.
Midfield duo Matt Palmer and Hope Akpan both missed the Fulham game through injury, although Stephen Warnock, Matty Lund and Sean Scannell all played alongside Brayford.
Moving forward, it is clear that Burton will not risk the fitness of any key players at Old Trafford with several important league matches on the horizon.
"Everyone stepped up their fitness Saturday, John Brayford is out because he is cup-tied," Clough told reporters during his pre-match press conference on Monday.
"We have a few knocks, despite having United we have QPR, Villa and Wolves coming up which is more important. We will pick a team accordingly, Hope and Matty Palmer should be available. Everyone will want to play."
The fixture will be only the third meeting between Burton and United. The two teams were previously paired together in the third round of the FA Cup in January 2006, when the Brewers, then a part-time non-league team during Clough's first spell in charge, held their illustrious visitors to a memorable goalless draw in East Staffordshire before losing a lucrative replay 5-0 in front of 11,000 travelling supporters.
Clough, who says he sees the comparisons between United counterpart Jose Mourinho and his late father Brian Clough, described that original tie as helping the club to "financially build a solid foundation" and pay off a stadium which had only been opened the previous summer. He believes that the money earned from this latest trip to Old Trafford could help him to recruit further new faces during the January transfer window.
"The money earned from the game I am sure it could contribute towards the January window if [we] need strengthening when it comes around," he said.
Reflecting on events from more than a decade ago and the remarkably swift progress that Burton have made since then, Clough added: "It certainly is a special week, going to Old Trafford. If you look at the transformation of the club since we last time played them as a part-time Conference side.
"We are only one league behind them after 11 years, it's remarkable how far we have come. The one outstanding memory of the game last time at the Pirelli was when they brought on [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Wayne] Rooney after 60 minutes."