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A collector’s special – Watch here Jonjo Shelvey scoring Newcastle winning headed goal on Friday

3 months ago
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Jonjo Shelvey has gone from being fifth choice midfielder to potentially playing on Saturday.

The unfortunate injury to Sean Longstaff on Saturday has changed the NUFC centre midfield dynamic.

Still no news on how serious the injury is after Longstaff left the London Stadium on crutches.

However, even if turns out not to be a serious knee ligament injury as has been speculated by some media, the 21 year old Geordie will surely be missing for at least a few matches.

If there had been no injury and Newcastle had escaped the London Stadium with a credible draw or better, then I just couldn’t have seen Rafa breaking up that Longstaff/Hayden partnership that had done so well.

At least until safety assured, just like last season when Diame and Shelvey worked so well, I think the other midfield options would have stayed on the sidelines.

Whilst I’m guessing Diame is favourite to come in against Everton, it was notable that against West Ham there was a real struggle for creativity, especially from centre midfield. An early goal and second before half-time saw the Hammers then sit back and Newcastle have no answer.

Jonjo Shelvey asked to play for the Under 23s and by dong so might just have given himself a chance of selection on Saturday at St James Park.

Admittedly it was against the Fulham second string but Shelvey still knocked the ball around well and looked fit and possibly more mobile than earlier in the season.

Indeed, we saw this collector’s piece below to win the game, Jonjo Shelvey initiating the move with a trademark long-range pass out to the wing and then as you can see, arriving in the box to score with his head!

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I can’t really recall him even heading the ball in the box, never mind scoring with it. Of course, when we have corners and set-pieces, Jonjo Shelvey is invariably standing over the ball and usually delivering it into the box.

However, the last month has seen both Hayden and Longstaff getting into the box and scoring goals, so possibly we will see more encouragement for central midfielders to do the same in the remaining games. The lack of goals from the middle of the pitch has been pretty shocking since promotion, last season Diame was the top centre midfield goalscorer with two, Shelvey and others with only one each.

The Mag – 2 March 2019:

Jonjo Shelvey turned 27 on Wednesday and according to reports on Saturday morning, the midfielder won’t be still at St James Park when he turns 28.

Showing just how quickly things can change in football,  the one-time England international has gone from being first choice midfielder and arguably key player overall, to being a distant fifth choice in centre midfield.

Jonjo Shelvey is set to leave Newcastle this summer according to The Telegraph, having fallen behind other improving midfield players and arguably also Rafa’s new relied on three centre-back formation not suiting him either.

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The reliance on Shelvey’s long-range passing from deep, largely negated as centre-backs Lejeune and Schar are very comfortable on the ball and confident in their passing.

As I said above, things can change very quickly in football but there looks no way that at this stage of his career, the former Liverpool player would be happy going into next season as a squad player.

From Newcastle’s point of view as well, having their highest earner not on the pitch wouldn’t be great.

Whilst Jonjo Shelvey reaches a key point in his contract this summer, he will have two years left and clubs are always keen to either sell or extend at that point, as they don’t want a player/asset getting to within a year of the contract ending and potentially leaving for nothing.

On Friday Rafa Benitez revealed that in anticipation he wouldn’t be involved at West Ham, Shelvey asked to play for the reserves at Fulham on Friday night.

Rafa asked if the midfielder wanted to play 45 minutes and the response was he’d rather play 60, in the event it was 62.

Newcastle largely dominated the game, certainly on chances, with Jonjos Shelvey knocking the ball back in typical fashion.

He had one long-range effort saved in the first half and then just after the clock turned 60 minutes, he sprayed a ball out to the wing.

When the ball was eventually delivered into the box, Shelvey was there to head the cross in for the only goal of the game on 61 minutes. Then subbed only seconds later.

I have a feeling that we will see more of Shelvey this season, even if only as an impact sub, after that though I think every chance he will be finding a new club.

Rafa Benitez at his pre-West Ham press conference on Friday:

He [Jonjo Shelvey] is coming back from injury and he needs match fitness.

“He said if he was not involved against West Ham,he wanted to improve his fitness.

“He asked to be put in the Under 23s team and it was a positive movement , he wanted to play.

“I have five midfielders competing for two spots and Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden have been doing very well.

“Mo Diame and Ki also can’t get in the team and they were ahead of Jonjo.

“But he still has a long-term future.

“He is under contract.

“He has not caused any trouble.

“He was the one telling me he wanted to play for the Under 23s.

“I said do you want 45 minutes and he said no, 60.”

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