Jonjo Shelvey’s injury that saw him withdrawn from the game against Arsenal on Sunday highlighted the importance of the player to Newcastle’s success or failure this season.
For one reason or another, the midfielder featured very sparingly under Rafa Benitez following his recovery from injury in the second half of last season.
Whether it was due to a clash of personalities or doubts over his match fitness, we will likely never know, but there is no doubt that a fully fit Shelvey makes Newcastle a better side.
Shelvey made some comments in China following Rafa’s departure, and although some fans do not like anyone speaking negatively about the Spaniard, in his personal case, the comments he made were right.
He would probably have been sold this summer, had Benitez stayed, yet his performance in the opening game suggested he should be one of the first names on the team-sheet every week.
He was instrumental for the Magpies in the first half yesterday, and came closest to scoring, when his thundering shot hit the post.
Of course, his withdrawal let to chaotic scenes on the pitch, and ultimately played a hand in the Arsenal winner, but it was the general dip in performance of the whole team in his absence that was noticeable.
Newcastle cannot afford Jonjo Shelvey’s injury to be serious
Both Steve Bruce and Newcastle fans will hope his injury is just an impact one, and something he can recover from before the trip to Norwich on Saturday.
Bruce’s initial reaction to the injury after the game, was that it is not serious, so hopefully he will not need to miss any games.
If he is sidelined for a period of time, it is difficult to see where the killer passes will come from.
Him playing in the middle of the park also brings out the best of Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff, although the latter struggled to make much of an impact in his first competitive start since his long lay-off.
Shelvey’s influence cannot be understated, and if he stays fit this season, Newcastle are likely to steer clear of the relegation zone when May comes around – such is his importance to the side.