Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has confirmed that both striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and midfielder Jonjo Shelvey still have futures in the first team under him.
The Magpies boss believes that the 46 game Championship season will mean rotation will be required with two matches a week being the norm. He told the Shields Gazette that Mitrovic will figure prominently after his four match ban although he was less specific about Shelvey. When asked about the pair, he replied:
“For sure. Mitrovic won’t play a role in the next four games, but after that it’s really important for us that they are available. My idea is to give all of them the same chance to compete. Then, when we have two games a week, we will make sure we can rotate, and change and they will have to be ready. It is difficult to play with 11 players for too many games, so I want to play with a squad, because if you play 46 games, with the cups, you have to be ready to have a big squad.”
Shelvey was used sparingly by Benitez in the last month of the Premier League season and the midfielder has expressed that it “hurt” him after being left out of crucial matches in the relegation battle. After his £12million transfer in January from Swansea City, he was given the captain’s armband by previous manager Steve McClaren but it looks likely he will have a battle on his hands to be a first team regular under Rafa. With the signing of Isaac Hayden from Arsenal and Mohamed Diame’s move from Hull City close to completion, the 24 year old will face stiff competition.