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Tuesday's EFL Cup Preview: Premier League quintet back in action

The World Cup final may still be fresh in the memory, but the focus has now quickly switched back to domestic matters with four EFL Cup fourth-round ties to take in on Tuesday.

There is plenty of scope for giant-killing with three Premier League teams - Leicester, Southampton and Wolves - in action against lower-tier opposition, while there will also be an all top-flight affair at St James' Park between Newcastle and Bournemouth.

Howe hoping for happy Bournemouth reunion

What: Newcastle v Bournemouth
Where: St James' Park, Newcastle
When: 19:45, Tuesday 20th December
Odds: Newcastle 9/20, Draw 16/5, Bournemouth 13/2

Newcastle were one of the country's form sides prior to the World Cup break and they will be aiming to extend their 11-match unbeaten run across all competitions when they host Bournemouth.

Manager Eddie Howe has certainly got the Magpies trending in the right direction, as they sit third in the Premier League standings and are 6/1 to end their 68-year wait for a major domestic trophy by winning this season's EFL Cup.

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Howe will be expecting no favours from his former side Bournemouth on Tuesday, however, with the Cherries having won their final two matches before the break, and they have since handed interim boss Gary O'Neil the permanent managerial reins.

This will be the second time these two sides have met at St James' this season, with the September Premier League encounter having ended 1-1. A repeat of that scoreline can be backed at 7/1, but it is 9/20 Newcastle that are fancied to advance through to the quarter-finals.

Lopetegui faces potential banana skin

What: Wolves v Gillingham
Where: Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton
When: 19:45, Tuesday 20th December
Odds: Wolves 1/8, Draw 7/1, Gillingham 25/1

Wolves return from the World Cup break sitting bottom of the Premier League standings, but with renewed hope following the appointment of Julen Lopetegui as their new head coach.

Lopetegui's first match in charge will be in the EFL Cup, with League Two strugglers Gillingham set to visit Molineux.

On paper, this looks a friendly introduction to English football for the former Spain and Real Madrid boss, with the Gills sitting bottom of the fourth-tier standings, while they are also the EFL's lowest scorers, netting just six times in 20 league matches to date.

However, Neil Harris' side have already taken one Premier League scalp in this year's competition, seeing off Brentford in round three, so romantics may be tempted by the 25/1 away victory, but realistically Wolves to win to zero at 8/15 looks the more likely outcome.

Foxes travel to managerless MK

What: Milton Keynes Dons v Leicester
Where: Stadium MK, Milton Keynes
When: 19:45, Tuesday 20th December
Odds: MK Dons 8/1, Draw 7/1, Leicester 2/5

After a difficult start to the season, Leicester appeared to be finding their feet before the World Cup break, picking up victories over Everton and West Ham in the league and Newport in the EFL Cup.

Next up for Brendan Rodgers' side is a trip to League One outfit MK Dons, who also started the season slowly but, unlike Leicester, their form is yet to pick up, which ultimately cost head coach Liam Manning his job earlier this month.

Experienced defender Dean Lewington has taken temporary charge since Manning's departure and guided his side to a morale-boosting 2-0 victory at Portsmouth over the weekend.

The Dons will now be hoping to build on that success and perhaps catch Leicester cold in what will be the Foxes' first competitive fixture since 12th November.

A shock MK win can be backed at 8/1, while Leicester are 2/5 to secure their progress inside 90 minutes.

Jones targets first win

What: Southampton v Lincoln City
Where: St Mary's Stadium, Southampton
When: 19:45, Tuesday 20th December
Odds: Southampton 3/10, Draw 17/4, Lincoln City 10/1

Nathan Jones has been in charge of Southampton for over a month now, but Tuesday's cup clash with League One Lincoln City will be his first home match as Saints manager.

Premier League survival is the main aim for Jones this season, but a cup run could also help and the former Luton boss will expect to see his side get the better of the visiting Imps at odds of 3/10.

Lincoln are mid-table in League One, but they do have recent cup pedigree to draw upon - who can forget their run to the FA Cup quarter-finals as a non-league club in 2017?

This could be a closely-fought contest, as the Saints look to avoid an upset and book their place in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup for the first time since they were runners up to Manchester United, ironically in the same year as Lincoln's cup heroics.

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