Rafa Benitez reveals why he has given Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey the freedom of the pitch

Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey.

Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey.

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Rafa Benitez has given Jonjo Shelvey the freedom of the pitch.

Shelvey has been a revelation so far this season for Championship leaders Newcastle United.

He has his own freedom to do what he can do, but we are happy with that because he has quality and we allow him to do that.

Rafa Benitez

The midfielder helped his team beat Ipswich Town 3-0 at St James’s Park on Saturday.

Shelvey is level with team-mate Matt Ritchie and Preston North End’s Paul Gallagher at the top of the league’s assists table, having set up five goals.

It was a different story for Shelvey – who has also scored three goals – in the second half of last season following his £12million move from Swansea City.

The 24-year-old struggled for form as the club battled to stay in the Premier League.

Asked how he had got the best out of the England international, United manager Benitez said: “I think it’s because he knows what he has to do.

“He was training hard during the summer.

“He’s working hard in every training session and is really focused, so it’s good that he’s doing the things we knew he was capable of doing.

“He has to do that week in and week out, but we know he is capable of doing that.

“He’s someone who is listening to us when we are trying to give advice and tips.

“Still, he has his own freedom to do what he can do, but we are happy with that because he has quality and we allow him to do that.

“At the same time, he can do things that his team-mates need him to do and he is doing that.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Under-23s take on Fulham at Motspur Park tonight (7pm kick-off) in a Premier League 2 fixture.