It turns out that Jonjo Shelvey had a high fever on Friday and wasn’t passed fit to play yesterday.
But he did start on the bench and we suppose in an emergency he came on for the final 12 minutes to try to help Newcastle get the winner.
Rafa must have been tempted to start the 24 year-old even though he wasn’t feeling well, since in the five games we played without Shelvey over the Christmas period, Newcastle lacked creativity and didn’t look a good side without him.
Mohamed Diame came in for Jonjo in central midfield alongside Jack Colback and he did OK.
Jonjo Shelvey and Rafa Benitez in training
This is how Rafa explained after the game his logic about how to use Jonjo, which ended up in a disappointing 0-0 draw:
“Jonjo had a high fever yesterday and the doctor told me this morning he wasn’t too sure whether he could start.
“I decided it would be better to try to manage the game with fresher legs and players who had trained.”
“And then with him it was a case of maybe trying to change something by playing him in the last 15 minutes.”
The good news is Jonjo will be fine for the game in two weeks time at home to Wigan, who beat Birmingham 1-0 at St. Andrew’s on 7th March.
We could also have defensive midfielder Issac Hayden back from his ankle injury and hopefully defender Ciaran Clark could also be fit from his knee injury, although he may still be doubtful.
Here’s hoping both players will be fit, since they have been two of our best performers this season and we need them in the side.
We must start winning games again and this is the first time this season we have gone three successive league games without a win.