The World Cup stars can participate with Manchester United, Man City and Liverpool in the Carabao Cup

A round of Carabao Cup matches in December is usually the perfect opportunity to rest some star players ahead of an unforgiving Christmas schedule.

But because of the Winter World Cup, this season is very different. Round 4 of the competition is a useful ‘soft touchdown’ game for those stars who played in Qatar ahead of the Premier League’s resumption on Boxing Day.

We can expect to see much stronger teams than usual featuring those players whose World Cup finals ended a little earlier than expected.

Those whose nations are knocked out after the group stage, or knocked out in the last 16 or quarter-finals, must be fit and ready to participate.

sportsmail It takes a closer look at some of those who could emerge as domestic work resumes in England.

Liverpool won the Carabao Cup last season and are among the teams set to resume this season in the fourth round in the days leading up to Christmas.

Manchester City vs Liverpool

The most attractive fourth-round tie is undoubtedly Manchester City against Liverpool on Thursday night, one of two chosen by Sky Sports for live coverage.

Whilst we would normally have expected to see a few youngsters thrown into the midst of the Premier League’s fierce competition, this time around we should see stronger line-ups on both sides.

The group-stage exits of Germany and Belgium mean that City duo Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne have not played competitively since December 1 – three weeks apart from this fixture.

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne crashed out of the World Cup early with Belgium

The German Ilkay Gundogan also came out in the group stage

Manchester City duo Kevin De Bruyne (left) and Ilkay Gundogan (right) suffered a nightmare World Cup group stage exit with Belgium and Germany respectively.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson (left) with Manchester United striker Casemiro after Brazil's exit

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson (left) with Manchester United striker Casemiro after Brazil’s exit

Carabao Cup matches

Tuesday (every 7.45pm)

MK Dons vs Leicester City

Newcastle United vs Bournemouth

Southampton – Lincoln City

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Gillingham

Wednesday

Blackburn Rovers – Nottingham Forest (7.45 pm)

Charlton Athletic – Brighton & Hove Albion (7.45pm)

Manchester United – Burnley (8pm CEST)

Live broadcast on Sky Sports main event and football

Thursday

Manchester City – Liverpool (8:00 pm)

Live broadcast on Sky Sports main event and football

This certainly strengthens the case for their selection against Liverpool to avoid any rust in the Christmas table.

The City team, consisting of Rodri, Emeric Laporte, and Swiss Manuel Akanji, was eliminated in the round of 16 on December 6.

And while it’s important for any World Cup player to get some rest, there is still a huge gap between full action.

Even those who are knocked out in the quarter-finals have a strong case for being included in this match.

This includes England players Kyle Walker, Phil Foden, Calvin Phillips (City), Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), as well as Liverpool’s Brazilian duo Alisson and Fabinho.

Their exits were December 9/10, but that still allows for a healthy 12 or 13 day gap between the last eight games and the Carabao Cup, making it more likely that they will also participate assuming they are not too tired.

Manchester United vs Burnley

Erik ten Hag always seems to insist on having the strongest possible Manchester United team at his disposal and it is unlikely he will be any different to Champions League side Burnley.

While the likes of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martínez have gone straight to the end of the World Cup meaning a central defensive adjustment will be required, United will likely have most of their other international players present and correct.

Christian Eriksen came home early after the Denmark crash and went back into an individual training program before joining the main group.

Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes was part of the Portugal squad that lost to Morocco

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes was part of the Portugal squad that lost to Morocco

Harry Maguire may be desperate for Man United's Carabao Cup fourth-round clash with Burnley

Harry Maguire may be desperate for Man United’s Carabao Cup fourth-round clash with Burnley

Then another host came out in the quarter-finals – the Brazilian trio of Casemiro, Fred and Anthony, the Portuguese stars Bruno Fernandez and Diogo Dalot, as well as the Englishmen Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire.

Ten Hag will appreciate that with several leading clubs already out of the EFL Cup, and one City or Liverpool to follow this week, United have a good chance of progressing all the way.

Newcastle United vs Bournemouth

This game has been brought forward for 24 hours from Wednesday to Tuesday due to the NHS strike.

However, Newcastle should have their five World Cup stars fit and available to face Bournemouth.

Kieran Trippier started England’s first two group matches, but did not feature in the two knockout matches, while Callum Wilson only appeared in by-game matches and Nick Pope did not feature at all.

Newcastle's Kieran Trippier meets Brennan Johnson during the England-Wales match

Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier meets Brennan Johnson during the England-Wales match

Wales striker Kiefer Moore leaves a missed opportunity during their 3-0 defeat by England

Wales striker Kiefer Moore leaves a missed opportunity during their 3-0 defeat by England

Swiss Fabian Char was eliminated in the round of sixteen, and Brazilian Bruno Guimarães did not participate after the group stage.

It must mean that Eddie Howe can reintroduce the quintet into the club action very quickly.

Bournemouth’s Welsh players – Chris Mepham and Keffer Moore – were back safe and sound after the set.

Wolves vs Gillingham

We can expect some rotations by Julen Lopetegui anyway given Wolves play a League Two side at home.

However, Raul Jimenez was part of the Mexican team that crashed after the set, the South Korean Hwang Hee-chan was knocked out in the last 16 and his Portuguese team of Ruben Neves, Mateus Nunes and Jose Sa in the last eight.

Everyone should have enough time to prepare for this fourth round tie if asked.

Hwang Hee-chan, from Wolverhampton, was the hero of South Korea when they beat Portugal to drop out of the group

Hwang Hee-chan, from Wolverhampton, was the hero of South Korea when they beat Portugal to drop out of the group

Leicester City vs MK Dons

A similar situation at Leicester, where Brendan Rodgers could potentially change his kit against a struggling League One opponent who just changed coach.

Rodgers was quietly delighted to see his Belgian players – Youri Tielemans, Wotte Weiss and Timothy Castagne – returned nice and early after their unexpected group-stage exit. Likewise Daniel Amartey with Ghana.

Meanwhile, England’s James Maddison took some time to shrug off a knock at the start of | World Cup then did not play a single minute anyway.

James Madison ended up with no more than a short watch spell during England's campaign

James Madison ended up with no more than a short watch spell during England’s campaign

Brighton vs Charlton

It also worked out well for Brighton, who traveled to League One club Charlton in the fourth round.

The Ecuadorian trio of Pervis Estupinan, Jeremy Sarmiento and Moises Caicedo returned home after the group stage, as did Belgian Leandro Trossard and Ghanaian Tariq Lamptey.

Spain goalkeeper Robert Sanchez did not play at all, while Japan’s Kaoru Mitoma returned after losing to Croatia in the Round of 16.

But Alexis McAllister, who has played a huge role for Argentina, may be excused for some Christmas games.

Alexis Mac Allister may return a bit later to Brighton after the good World Cup

Alexis Mac Allister may return a bit later to Brighton after a good World Cup

Southampton vs Lincoln match

Both Saints players in the tournament suffered early exits. Armil Bela Kochab (Germany) and Mohamed Salisu (Ghana) should be fine if Nathan Jones needs to take them up against Lincoln in League One.

Nottingham Forest vs Blackburn

Far from an easy draw for Forest, who head to Championship promotion contenders Blackburn.

However, none of the World Cup players went particularly far in the tournament, which should help their cause.

Welsh trio Neco Williams, Wayne Hennessy and Brennan Johnson returned from Qatar after being eliminated in the group stage, while Cheikhou Kouyaté was part of the Senegal squad that lost to England in the round of 16.

Swiss midfielder Remo Freuler did not have a great time as his team lost 6-1 to Portugal at the same stage.

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