Carling Cup reaches last 16 stage

The Carling Cup has reached the last 16 stage and Tuesday night sees the first five ties played, with favourites and holders Manchester United among the clubs in action.

Whether Wayne Rooney plays against Wolves at Old Trafford will undoubtedly be a major talking point, but boss Sir Alex Ferguson will be more concerned that his online betting favourites make sure of a place in the quarter-finals.

In the last round United swept to a 5-2 victory at Scunthorpe United, with Ferguson handing a chance to impress to the likes of Michael Owen, Bebe and Chris Smalling.

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Wolves, meanwhile, needed extra-time to see off both a stubborn Notts County 4-2 in the last round and Southend United in round two.

The meeting of Wigan Athletic and Swansea City at the DW Stadium sees Latics boss Roberto Martinez go head-to-head with his former club.

The Spaniard has seen his side ease past Hartlepool United and Preston North End in the last two rounds, although they needed goals in the final three minutes from Jordi Gomez and Charles N’Zogbia to see off the Lilywhites 2-1.

The Swans have scored three times in all of their three Carling Cup ties this season, so are likely to push the home side to the limit.

Leicester City’s home clash with West Brom will attract more attention now that Sven-Goran Eriksson has taken charge of the Foxes, with the former England boss never one to shun the limelight.

However, the Baggies will be confident of ruining Eriksson’s evening, having made a fine start to life back in the Premier League, as well as knocking Manchester City out in the last round of the Carling Cup.

Northampton Town’s reward for a famous win over Liverpool at Anfield in the last round is a trip to Portman Road to take on Ipswich Town.

The Cobblers’ cup success this season is in stark contrast to their struggles in League Two, with boss Ian Sampson’s job being in some doubt after a poor start to the campaign.

Town also despatched League One high-flyers Brighton in round one and Championship Reading in the second round.

The Tractor Boys, meanwhile, will be eager to make the most of home advantage after winning away from home in the first three rounds of the competition – at Exeter City, Crewe Alexandra and Millwall.

Tuesday’s final tie sees Birmingham City play host to Brentford, who put paid to Everton after a third round penalty shootout at Griffin Park.

The Bees had previously edged out Cheltenham Town and Hull City by 2-1 scorelines on their own patch, but a trip to St Andrew’s will be a much stiffer test.

City have scored three goals in their home wins in the last two rounds over MK Dons and Rochdale and will be confident of ending Brentford’s fine run to the last 16.