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Opinion

Jonjo Shelvey didn’t deserve England call-up ahead of Fabian Delph or whoever

3 years ago
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The latest England squad was announced earlier today, Jonjo Shelvey once again ignored, as he has been since joining Newcastle United.

As recently as October 2015, three months before arriving at St James Park, the midfielder started and played the full 90 minutes in a 3-0 win away in Lithuania – proving to be his last call-up for his country, for now.

Fair to say that in central midfield England don’t really have any stand out performers, the likes of Alli and Kane being the star players further up the pitch.

Two questions stand out for me really…

Is Jonjo Shelvey good enough to be called up by England?

Should he have been called up this month?

For me it is a very definite yes and no.

He has already shown he can perform at a decent standard for the Three Lions, not just be a non-playing squad member, whilst he is also almost certainly the best passer of the ball that England have.

I would also say that during his time at Newcastle he should have been called up by his country – but not this time.

When he arrived at Newcastle in January 2016 he had two cracking man of the match performances in his first two home games (both wins) against West Ham and West Brom.

It looked like he could spark a revival/survival bid, sadly though both player and team petered out and indeed Rafa Benitez ended up dropping Jonjo Shelvey.

After relegation, Shelvey went away and got really fit over the summer, lost significant weight, and took the Championship by storm. Ian Holloway probably was very near the mark when he said that Jonjo Shelvey was the best player to ever feature in the Championship.

Even though it was the second tier, his performances could and should have brought an England shout sometime – but it wasn’t to be.

Fast forward to summer 2017 and Shelvey is made captain on the opening day of the season.

A disciplined first half sees an excellent 45 minutes in terms of getting Newcastle off to a great start, goalless at the break against Tottenham. Three minutes after the match resumes and he is red carded for a pathetic stand (not stamp!) on Alli’s hand. The 2-0 defeat totally down to him, as at that point Newcastle looked really solid.

After the suspension had ended, Rafa didn’t rush Shelvey back, with Merino and Hayden doing so well there was no need.

However, brought back for the Liverpool match, that was then followed by starts against Southampton, Crystal Palace and Burnley.

The game against the scousers saw a great through ball for Joselu’s equaliser and a decent performance, then at Southampton he and indeed the whole team played well, unlucky to draw 2-2 rather than winning.

The Palace game Jonjo Shelvey was really poor, then at Burnley he was arguably the best of a bad/average bunch but it was a game where no Newcastle player did well.

I think that at this moment in time, Jonjo Shelvey has enough on his plate convincing Rafa Benitez he should get in ahead of Hayden and Merino, never mind his country.

Last season he was very good, this season he still has it all to prove. We know he can do it but Jonjo Shelvey has to do it now, prove he deserves to be in both the Newcastle and England teams – or at least squad in England’s case.

The headline news today centred around the first call-ups for Gomez, Loftus-Cheek and Abraham, and I think there is definitely a case for Jamaal Lascelles feeling he could have maybe deserved a spot.

As for Jonjo Shelvey, many Newcastle fans were pointing towards the fact Fabian Delph got in ahead of the Newcastle midfielder.

The last year or two I would have agreed that was a joke considering how little he had played but I find it hard to argue this time.

Whilst Jonjo Shelvey has had an indifferent start to the season, a mixed bag, Fabian Delph has done really well.

It helps of course with the players he has alongside him but there again, to get a game in that Man City squad takes some doing.

He has played 10 times (8 starts 2 as a sub) in all competitions (including 4 starts in Premier league and a sub appearance), Manchester City winning all 10 games.

He will be full of confidence and as I say, arguably deserves to even play.

As for Jonjo Shelvey, he needs to do well on Saturday and then prepare for the game after the international break.

A starring role against Manchester United and his season will really have started rolling.
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