Jonjo Shelvey’s surprising reaction to being dropped by Rafa Benitez at Newcastle

Jonjo Shelvey watches on as Newcastle celebrate Moussa Sissoko's goal

Jonjo Shelvey watches on as Newcastle celebrate Moussa Sissoko's goal

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Jonjo Shelvey has told of his relief after the toughest week of his Newcastle United career ended in victory.

Stand-in captain Shelvey was dropped for Saturday’s game against Swansea City, his former club.

Rafael Benitez speaks with Cheick Tiote before the game

Rafael Benitez speaks with Cheick Tiote before the game

The midfielder – who had been skippering the relegation-threatened club in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini through injury – came off the bench in late in the match, which Newcastle won 3-0.

Shelvey, signed for £12million from Swansea in January, had been struggling for form.

The 24-year-old was also widely criticised for refusing to speak for the team, as captain, after the club’s abject 3-1 defeat to Southampton a week earlier.

Instead, 22-year-old substitute Jamaal Lascelles spoke eloquently and passionately at St Mary’s Stadium about the “heart and desire” he felt United were lacking on the pitch.

It’s frustrating not to start against my former club, but it’s not about me at this stage it’s about the team and winning.

Jonjo Shelvey

Shelvey broke his silence after the Swansea match.

And the England international said he accepted the decision of Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez to leave him out of the side and hand the captain’s armband to Moussa Sissoko.

“It’s frustrating not to start against my former club, but it’s not about me at this stage it’s about the team and winning,” said Shelvey.

“I thought we thoroughly deserved it – we were outstanding.

“The gaffer gave the gameplan at the start, and we implemented that and stuck to it to get the three points.

“I was a bit surprised to be left out, but I think he knows what he’s doing so you can’t exactly sit here and criticise him with his record and his CV which speaks for itself.

“I didn’t get an explanation before, but I’m sure he’ll put me aside and tell me.

“As I say it’s not about me, it’s about this club and maintaining Premier League status. We’re all in it together.

“There are obviously going to be times when you’re not going to play, but you’ve just got to take it on the chin. I eventually got on the pitch and we scored another two goals.”

Asked if it had been his “toughest week” at the club, Shelvey added: “Yes, probably in terms of results.

“The gaffer is always keeping you guessing if you’re going to play or not.

“No-one can rest on their laurels. Even if you’ve had a good game the previous week, there’s still a chance you might not be playing the next.”

Sissoko was a surprise choice as captain, but Shelvey felt his midfield colleague “deserved” the armband.

On the captaincy, Shelvey said: “It’s not a big issue.

“Moussa deserved it. I wasn’t starting. If I had been, I’d have still been captain. The gaffer went with Cheick (Tiote) and (Jack) Colback.

“He wanted to be a bit more defensive. It was his decision. We’ve got a game on Tuesday night (against Manchester City). It’s a squad game, (and) fingers crossed I get a start then.”

The Swansea victory moved second-bottom Newcastle to within three points of Premier League safety, and the club would go above 17th-placed Norwich City.

“This place will be bouncing,” said Shelvey.

“We’re all going home now with real belief, and fingers crossed they’ll stick with us.

“The fans have been superb. You go over to them at the end of a game, and not one of them are giving you bad signs.

“They’ve been clapping us off the pitch when, to be honest, we haven’t deserved that. It’s nice and it’s so nice to give them a win.”