Football is a fickle game. It wasn’t that long ago that Jonjo Shelvey was a nailed on starter for Newcastle United, regarded as key to the Magpies’ attacking threat.
Fast forward a few months and now the England international can barely get a look in at St. James’ Park.
Hampered by injury, he has failed to really make any kind of impact this season, and now, with Sean Longstaff suddenly exploding onto the scene and Isaac Hayden enjoying something of a second coming on Tyneside, it has been difficult to see how Shelvey could realistically force his way back into contention for a starting berth.
An injury to Longstaff sustained against West Ham has put Shelvey back within touching distance of an unexpected comeback, however, but even that is far from certain.
The assumption is that Rafa Benitez will prefer either Shelvey or Ki Sung-yeung to come into the side instead of the more defensively minded Mo Diame, and if that is the case, then a look at the numbers illustrates just how important it is for the Spaniard to pick the Englishman.
As reported in the Chronicle, Shelvey has completed 112 successful passes in the final third compared to 94 for Ki, and in terms of actual chances created, Shelvey has 20 chances in 11 games – six more than Ki.
Yes, his passing accuracy may be a little behind the South Korean’s, and yes, Ki may pass more frequently, but the ingenuity and creativity that Shelvey brings to the side is undeniable.
He has to return.