The England international produced another sub-par performance for the Magpies in their goalless draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, and Bird thinks Bruce needs to make a call on the former Swansea City man.
“I can’t remember him making an effective tackle or bullying someone off the ball [against Brighton] – I think you’ve got to do that horrible dirty work if you’re in that midfield,” he told The Chronicle.
“He’s one of these players who has his contract talks coming up – will they give him a new deal or is time to cash in? Newcastle are going to have to make a big decision on Shelvey because he’s an asset – someone will pay £15m for him, and they’re going to have [to] make a tough decision soon.”
Bird is absolutely spot on, here. Shelvey is looming as an increasingly pressing issue for Bruce and managing director Lee Charnley. Do they persist with him due to his undoubted talent and perhaps give him a new deal? Or do they attempt to flog him in January while they can still probably get the £15million that Bird mentions? If you asked most Newcastle fans whether they’d take £15million for Shelvey today, they’d probably bite your hand off. He’s not shown an ability to adapt to the tactics of latter-day Rafael Benitez or Bruce at Newcastle, which is presumably the way the team is going to play until they can bring in some more talent. One way of affording that talent is to sell players who can fetch a decent price but aren’t guaranteed starters. Shelvey certainly falls under that description at the moment. It seems like he just doesn’t suit this iteration of Newcastle, and so it might be best for the club to take what they can get for him at this point.