Jonjo Shelvey eased his way back into action on Wednesday night and despite never really getting out of second gear, the midfielder took Birmingham apart.

It was embarrassingly easy for the Newcastle player on his return, playing the ball both long and short, rarely – if ever, losing the ball.

All three goals were created by midfield maestro and whilst Birmingham were shocking for most of the match, certainly until they brought subs on, you do have to wonder how the game would have gone in his absence and what the result would have been?

My take on it would be that Newcastle would have probably still won but it would have been a struggle.

A brisk January midwinter night would certainly not have been lit up by anything close to the beauty of Shelvey’s intricate passing.

His slide rule 40 yard pass to pick out Newcastle’s only player in the Birmingham half was outstanding – the visiting keeper bringing Gouffran down and Matt Ritchie doing the rest from the spot-kick.

A clever free-kick into Gouffran saw United go 2-0 up, then any nerves were settled by a classy driving run to the line and a cutback with his weaker foot, Ritchie finding it impossible to miss from a yard out.

Gianfranco Zola was also left impressed by Jonjo Shelvey, in fact so much so that the Newcastle midfielder reminded him of Craig Gardner…

The Birmingham boss saying that Shelvey is so ‘influential’ and has so much ‘presence’, he is very much like his recent signing Gardner, the pair able to ‘make a difference’.

Funnily enough, when Jonjo Shelvey has been carving apart the Championship this season, I have often thought about the ginger workhorse who Sunderland released a few years ago..NOT!

Ian Holloway claimed that Shelvey was the best ever player to appear in the Championship and I think that description is a lot closer to the mark than any comparisons with Craig Gardner.

It is actually both uplifting and depressing when looking at how good Jonjo Shelvey is for Newcastle this season.

Uplifting because the player has underlined that he is a class above this division and has run the NUFC show this season – whilst also depressing because United have been so poor in his five game absence and done nothing to suggest that it wouldn’t be a bumpy road to the end of the season if he ends up injured and/or suspended in the next four months for any significant length of time.

Gianfranco Zola:

“Jonjo Shelvey is obviously a player that when he is on the pitch he runs the show.

“He is very influential, not only by what he does but by the presence he has on the pitch.

“If you saw our game last week against Nottingham Forest, when we brought Craig Gardner on the pitch everything changed in a positive way.

“Those are players who can make a difference and everybody feels that.”