Gianfranco Zola's glowing praise for Newcastle's Jonjo Shelvey

Yoan Gouffran and Jonjo Shelvey, right
Yoan Gouffran and Jonjo Shelvey, right
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Gianfranco Zola hailed Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey – after watching him dismantle his Birmingham City team.

Zola's side were convincingly beaten 3-1 at St James's Park last night in a third-round FA Cup replay.

Stand-in captain Shelvey, back from a five-game suspension, dictated the game and had a hand in all three goals.

READ MORE: Rafa Benitez reacts to Jonjo Shelvey's match-winning comeback for Newcastle
Championship leaders Newcastle – who take on Rotherham United at home in the league on Saturday – had missed the midfielder's influence in midfield during his ban.

And Zola, one of the Premier League's all-time greats, paid a glowing tribute to the 24-year-old after the third-round replay.

"When he's on the pitch he runs the show," said Zola.

"He's very influential. He has a presence on the pitch."

Zola left Tyneside still awaiting his first win as Birmingham manager seven games into his reign.

"It's not pleasant, for sure," said the Italian.

"I keep saying a lot of things are happening, but at the end of the day, it's been too long that a victory hasn't come, so that's the disappointing bit.

"But again, I have been long enough in football to understand when something is progressing well and it won't be long before this team is going to be winning a lot of games.

"When you are playing against teams like Newcastle, who have bright players – very clever players – they take advantage of anything and that's exactly what happened."