Sean Longstaff on the other hand, Starforth believes is almost certain to start: “[Steve] Bruce’s side will need to do the same to City, but is that Shelvey’s game? Bruce has Sean Longstaff available from suspension, and the 22-year-old is a strong contender to start against the Premier League champions. There’s also a case for his younger brother Matty’s inclusion given his athleticism.
“Shelvey earned the armband with his performances against West Ham United and Bournemouth, but did he do enough to keep his place, let alone the captaincy? That’s a decision Bruce must make, though Longstaff, surely, will be recalled to the starting XI.”
It’s safe to say that Shelvey’s audition as Newcastle captain on Monday didn’t quite go according to plan. The England international was coming into the contest on the back of big games against West Ham United and Bournemouth, but he roundly failed to have any impact on proceedings at Villa Park. The statistics tell us as much. As per WhoScored.com, the former Swansea City man managed just one shot and one key pass, while he produced seven crosses but only found a teammate with one. His pass success rate came in at a disappointing 78.4%. With that said, it’s hard to make the argument that Shelvey should stay in the team for a clash with a City side against whom you cannot afford to have any passengers. Longstaff is an all-round midfield talent, as capable of crunching into a tackle as he is spraying a 40-yard pass. With him now back from suspension, it would be a big surprise if Bruce didn’t play him on Saturday.