Jonjo Shelvey played well against Leicester City on Wednesday evening when he came back into the side for Sean Longstaff. It was a change that was expected as Longstaff is still in the process of coming back from his knee injury, and two matches in three days could have been a bit much for the youngster.
We would expect Sean to return to the starting eleven for Saturday’s match against Watford and for Steve Bruce to keep with a 5-4-1 formation using just the two central midfielders.
That would mean that Jonjo Shelvey would have to return to the bench, as the excellent partnership of Longstaff and Isaac Hayden are playing too well together to be broken up.
Jonjo Shelvey– wants to sign a new deal
It seems that Jonjo understands the situation and has reacted very maturely. He doesn’t expect to start against Watford, and he sees the logic behind that.
The Sun has published an interview with Shelvey in which he talks about Saturday’s game as well as wanted to stay on Tyneside:
“But I am part of this team. I’m playing for another contract at this football club, and I need to keep performing and keep training hard.
“I’ll do what the manager tells me to do and what the hierarchy tell me to do. I just want to be part of the squad.
“I got dropped on the day of the game, and I was going to go knock on the gaffer’s door the next day because I was top scorer at the time.
“But they went and won, and the next day you’re doing a session that just totally makes you forget.
“I don’t expect to play on Saturday. The team won. That’s football.
“If I do go into management, which I hope to one day, I wouldn’t change a winning team. That’s just the way it is.
“The team was outstanding on Sunday – they played really well – and you have to give them another chance.
“It’ll be a big game, and if I’m on the bench and called upon, I’ll be ready.
“We need to work on what to do offensively with the ball, but that will come.
“Defensively, we look sound. We’ve had that instilled in us with Rafa, and the gaffer has picked up on that formation, and it seems to be working.
“I think people need to get off the gaffer’s back. He’s come in here, and he’s doing a good job. It’s enjoyable to work with him.”
This is a very mature response from Shelvey who by his own admission is not pleasant to be around when he has been dropped. He missed a lot of time last season with his thigh injury and couldn’t force his way back into the team with Longstaff and Hayden playing so well.
Steve Bruce went with a 3-5-2 formation throughout the preseason and in the first two matches. This was partly to get Jonjo Shelvey into the side. The formation did not work, and Bruce wisely scrapped it for the Tottenham match.
The team appear much more comfortable with the 5-4-1 that they used against Tottenham and Leicester City on Wednesday. As Shelvey said, it is similar to the one they used last year when they started to get results and climb the table.
Jonjo has just two years remaining on the deal he signed when he joined from Swansea in January 2016.
He showed what he can bring to the side against Leicester City on Wednesday with some breathtaking long passes and a blistering shot on goal. He will have to fight to get back into the team, but he seems determined to do just that.