At this time last year, Newcastle started to win games and pulled away from the relegation zone to eventually finish 10th in the league.
And the two players who helped the team at that time were Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey in central midfield and they struck up a great partnership playing together.
The same is happening this season.
But in this case, the two in Newcastle’s engine room are local lad Sean Longstaff – who has been terrific since December – and wantaway Isaac Hayden who is playing the best football of his Newcastle career.
It means that Shelvey, Diame and new summer signing Ki are finding it difficult to get back into the first team.
Jonjo Shelvey has been injured for quite a while now with a thigh problem and he lacks match fitness although he is now fully fit physically.
Rafa Benitez and Jonjo Shelvey
This is what Rafa has said about Jonjo in the Chronicle today:
“It is very clear – I said it’s down to match fitness, and he has to play matches.” “He knows that he will not be involved this weekend and we were talking about that.”
“He said he wanted to have 45 minutes to 60 minutes under his belt.” “I think it’s fine. For me it is a very positive movement on his part.”
“Jonjo Shelvey was asking me to play for the U23s because he knows he as to play games.”
“So he played with them last night.” “He’s somebody who is keen to be involved so that is positive.”
“Then we have the same problem though.” “There’s still 24 players available and 18 places in a squad.”
“At the same time it is good because there’s competition for the players.” “The only thing that can be is positive for improving the levels.”
“It’s true (some players are in top form).” “They are doing well and it’s not easy to change players.”
“It’s difficult to even pick 18 for the squad.”
Jonjo Shelvey is not available for the squad today having played last night at Fulham and we would be surprised if Mo Diame or Ki start the game at West Ham today.
We expect Longstaff and Hayden to continue in central midfield for Newcastle.
This is a difficult situation for Jonjo, the highest paid player on the books, but we are also seeing the emergence of a top young local lad at Newcastle – Sean Longstaff.
What do you think?