Newcastle’s back-to-back wins against West Ham and Bournemouth have coincided with Jonjo Shelvey’s return to the side.
Following Sean Longstaff’s red card against Wolves, a space in midfield opened up – and Shelvey has taken his chance with both hands.
The 27-year-old scored a lovely free kick which turned out to be the winner against West Ham. And after a slow start against Bournemouth, he ended up playing his part in yet another win for the Magpies. He even donned the captain’s armband after Jamaal Lascelles’ injury.
But there is increased pressure on Shelvey to perform against Aston Villa. He will surely start alongside Isaac Hayden once again, but his future place in the starting XI isn’t guaranteed.
After the Villa game, we welcome Manchester City to St James’ Park. When the champions head to town we’ll have Sean Longstaff back from suspension. The youngster has an incredible engine, which could be handy against a Pep Guardiola side who will try to pass us into submission.
Shelvey and Longstaff have very different qualities, and the latter’s might be more suited against Manchester City.
If Shelvey doesn’t perform against Aston Villa, Steve Bruce may have a very easy decision to make next Saturday. The £12 million man needs to make sure he does everything within his power to stay in Bruce’s XI.