Tony Cascarino handed Newcastle United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey some free advice when discussing the midfielder’s impressive performance against West Ham.
The pundit told Shelvey that he needed to effectively give Steve Bruce a selection headache and potentially threaten the first-team spots of Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden in the process.
“Having Sean Longstaff go out the team, Shelvey has come in and put in a performance,” said Cascarino on talkSPORT (6:56, Saturday, November 9th).
“Now going back and talking about what I was earlier, make Steve Bruce have a decision.
“Whether it’s Hayden’s spot, or whether it’s about Bruce bringing back Longstaff into the team, Longstaff who has been brilliant for Newcastle by the way.
“Will it be Hayden out instead of Shelvey? He’s got to give that decision making…he’s got to give Steve Bruce something to think about.”
While Cascarino has handed Shelvey some golden advice when it comes to locking down a first-team spot, Hayden and Longstaff surely need to heed the same words in order to ensure their teammate doesn’t take their spot.
Both need to play out of their skins when given a chance and give Bruce a selection headache, because if they don’t keep delivering the goods or even raise their games, then Shelvey is more than capable of taking their spot in the starting line-up.
Hayden has averaged a rating of 6.82 on WhoScored across his eight Premier League outings, which implies room for improvement, and has been a defensive rock in Bruce’s midfield.
The 24-year-old has averaged 3.1 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game, as per WhoScored, and as long as he keeps those numbers up and doesn’t let his performances drop, Shelvey would have to go some to knock him out the team.
After all, Shelvey has only averaged 0.7 tackles and 0.7 interceptions across his six league outings this season, as per WhoScored, so would really need to up his game in order to match what Hayden brings to the table defensively.
Then there’s Longstaff.
The 22-year-old is currently serving a three-game suspension following his red card against Wolves, and his absence has allowed Shelvey the chance to shine.
Longstaff has just above averaged more key passes per match than Shelvey this season, 1.4 compared to the 27-year-old’s 1.2, but his more experienced teammate offers more of a direct goal threat. (Source: WhoScored)
Shelvey has averaged 1.3 shots per game, scoring twice in the process to be the club’s top scorer, whereas Longstaff hasn’t hit the back of the net despite averaging 0.9 shots per match. (Source: WhoScored)
However, Longstaff has proven to be more effective defensively this season, he has averaged 1.5 tackles and 1.1 interceptions (Source: WhoScored), so that’s likely keeping him above Shelvey in the pecking order.
Yet if the 22-year-old drops his numbers when getting back in the team following his suspension or Shelvey raises his game, he did make two tackles, two clearances and two interceptions against West Ham (Source: WhoScored), then the 22-year-old will likely lose his starting spot.
So with that in mind, Hayden and Longstaff should heed Cascarino’s advice to Shelvey as they need to be aiming to give Bruce a headache in order to keep their place.