Jonjo Shelvey returns from suspension this weekend and provides a selection headache for Rafa Benitez, as Newcastle United travel to Swansea City. The midfielder was sent off during the first match of the season. It was a moment of petulance from the England international as he trod on Dele Alli right in front of the referee.
Although he is a talented player, Shelvey has always frustrated since breaking into the professional game as he has a moment of madness in him. There was no need to do what he did to Alli, as his team were in the game and growing into it. However, the midfielder was wound up and completely lost his head. Benitez will have been unsure whether he could trust the 25-year-old this season and his actions on the opening day could see him lose his place in the first team.
Should he start against Swansea City?
This is the main selection headache for Benitez heading into this weekend. On measure of ability, Shelvey should be one of the first names on the team-sheet on Sunday. However, he has regularly shown that he can’t be trusted and picking him is a risk, especially against Swansea. The midfielder has a poor relationship with the home supporters due to the way his career in South Wales ended. He will be getting stick from the first minute and it will be the type of environment that could see him lose his head.
Newcastle didn’t fare well without him last season as he was their playmaker and the individual that they looked at for motivation. However, they showed in their last fixture that they could win without the midfielder. They ran out comfortable winners over West Ham with the midfield partnership of Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden offering real promise. It would be harsh to drop either and that may mean that Shelvey has to bide his time.
It is an interesting dilemma for Benitez. On his day, Shelvey can be box office and it is well within his capabilities to play a starring role against his former club. However, he needs to learn from his mistakes and he wouldn’t if he was brought straight back into the team. If they want him to eradicate disciplinary problems, benching him on Sunday could be the right call.
What does the future hold for Shelvey?
Despite his red card, he remains a crucial player for Newcastle. He has a big part to play over the course of the season, but it could take him a few weeks to earn his way back into the first team. Shelvey will come out as a stronger player and person if Benitez manages this situation correctly. The lack of signings means that the Spaniard needs to squeeze everything out of the players that he has available. As one of the most talented, Shelvey needs to have a big season, but he won’t be of any use if he continues to pick up needless suspensions.