The Chronicle journalist admitted that their age could play a big factor on whether or not they will receive new contracts at St James’ Park, despite Steve Bruce wanting their future secured in the North East.
Douglas admitted in a Q&A on the Chronicle website, that the Magpies’ duo’s future could depend on where they finish in the Premier League, and if they continue in a relegation battle, new deals will not be on the table any time soon.
“With Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey, though, there’s the added complication of their age,” he wrote.
“Steve Bruce has been pushing their cases but we’ll see. I suspect much will depend on how this season progresses: if it’s a relegation fight, those deals might not happen any time soon.”
It comes as no surprise that both of these players may struggle to earn new contracts this season. Both Ritchie and Shelvey have struggled to make any sort of impact on the Magpies’ first-team under Bruce in this campaign for different reasons. Ritchie picked up an ankle injury in the Carabao Cup defeat against Leicester and hasn’t been seen ever since, and could struggle to earn his spot back due to the good form of Jetro Willems in his absence. On top of that, Shelvey has failed to impress when on the pitch and young players such as Matty Longstaff have come in and performed to a much higher standard when needed. Bruce may appreciate their experience, but should they not be able to contribute massively in the second half of the season, then he should not hesitate to let them go and make them available for other sides to come in and make them an offer.