As romantic as a trip to Wembley may sound, Newcastle and Norwich must abandon any ambitions of a continued EFL Cup run if they want Premier League football next term.
The Championship pair are both in with a chance of sealing automatic promotion back to the top-flight just one season after being relegated.
Rafael Benitez’s Magpies are top of the tree, 10 wins from their opening 14 games helping to open up a three-point advantage over Brighton. Meanwhile, the Canaries sit fourth, just a point away from second spot.
Both clubs have carried their strong league form into the League Cup, and have fellow second tier opponents standing in the way of a place in the last eight.
However, with only one of the last 12 teams to be automatically promoted to the top flight going beyond the fifth round in the EFL Cup the same season, having Wembley dreams dashed appears to be a blessing in disguise.
Last season’s Middlesbrough were the only team able to juggle a promotion charge with a cup run, although it may have cost them the Championship title as eventual-winners Burnley cleared their schedule by going out in the first round.
Indeed, four of the last six second-tier champions crashed at the first League Cup hurdle, while the other two both reached the fifth.
By still standing at this point, Norwich have already gone further than both of their previous two promotion campaigns, having been third-rounders in 2014/15 and exiting a stage earlier in 2010/11.
When Newcastle broke the 100-point barrier and romped to the league title in 2009/10, they did so having exited the League Cup at the third round.
The Magpies host Preston North End on Tuesday night and are heavily fancied to win at a price of 2/5.
Norwich visit Leeds on the same evening and can be backed at 31/20.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing