Date: 28th November 2019 at 3:00pm
Written by:

OPINION

Newcastle United are unusually well-stocked in the centre of the park. 

Whereas the Magpies have fairly slim pickings in most other areas, except perhaps at the heart of defence, the engine room is an area in which they have a plethora of players fighting for just a couple of places.

In recent weeks, Steve Bruce has called upon Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden, a combination that was working quite nicely up until Monday night’s disappointing defeat to Aston Villa, but it is important to remember that, to a certain extent, his hand was forced in that decision by the suspension of Sean Longstaff.

The local lad was given his marching orders in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw against Wolves at the end of October, and hasn’t featured since.

Now, however, he is back, and determined to regain his starting role.

Speaking to the Chronicle, he said: “Hopefully now I am available I can hit the ground running and give the manager a headache and get back in the team.”

It’s nice to hear that kind of confidence from the fan favourite, but it begs the question, will he walk straight back into the side against Manchester City this weekend?

If we assume that Bruce won’t drop both Shelvey and Hayden after some decent outings, and if we also presume that Matty Longstaff is unlikely to leapfrog his brother in the pecking order just yet, that leaves three players fighting for two places.

A quick comparison of the trio shows that he Longstaff could be in for a disappointment.

Of the three, he has the lowest overall match rating this term, as per Whoscored, while none of his other stats are so drastically improved on his colleagues’ that it would justify throwing him straight back in.

It’s good that he’s hungry, but he may have to be patient too.