Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey have played little to no part in Newcastle’s recent victories and they now face a tough time getting back into the squad.
The star players went off injured in Newcastle’s eventual 1-0 win against Watford, and they’ve both spent the last few weeks in recovery.
Newcastle were expected to suffer after losing their two key players, but instead they have prospered. After a win-less opening 10 matches, Rafa Benitez’s new look side have now recorded a trio of wins and look in great form. And it’s clear for everyone to see that Shelvey and Lascelles’ replacements have helped changed the Toon’s fortunes.
New boys Fabian Schar and Ki Sung-yueng are now firm fan favourites and have been two of the top performers in Newcastle’s winning run.
At first, the win against Watford was deemed something of a fluke, and Lascelles and Shelvey were expected to return. But their recoveries have taken longer than expected and Newcastle have continued to win in spite of them.
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Now Newcastle fans are unsure if they even want the duo in their starting XI, as the team continues their ascent up the table.
Fans on Shelvey and Lascelles
Tough Decisions for Rafa Benitez
Although a tough break for Lascelles and Shelvey, it’s not the worst problem for Benitez to have.
Competition for places was something the manager had been crying out for earlier in the season, and now he has it.
Shelvey was on the bench for the Burnley game and it wont be long before Lascelles is also back to full fitness. But even if the duo up their game in training, it would be a risk to throw them back into the side.
Lascelles and Shelvey were never actually in bad form despite Newcastle’s poor start to the season. Benitez would have every right to play them.
But Ki’s possession based game and Schar’s ball-playing ability have vastly improved Newcastle’s performances. Would it all fall apart if they were taken out the side?
With a busy fixture list in December, there is plenty of chances for rotation and for Rafa to find his best team. It will be very interesting to see how he utilises his squad in the coming weeks.