Rafa Benitez sweating on Jonjo Shelvey’s availability at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez and Jonjo Shelvey
Rafa Benitez and Jonjo Shelvey

Rafa Benitez is hoping Jonjo Shelvey will be back on the field on Boxing Day.

The Newcastle United midfielder is facing a ban of five games or more if a Football Association misconduct charge is proven.

Shelvey denies a charge of using racially-aggravated language towards an opponent in September’s 2-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers in September.

And the 24-year-old will go before an independent commission this week.

The commission has been gathering evidence and witness statements ahead of the hearing.

Shelvey, a key figure in the club’s multi-national dressing room, has been an influential figure on the pitch so far this season for Newcastle, who beat Burton Albion 2-1 at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday to secure top spot in the Championship for Christmas.

United manager Benitez said: “We know that he has the quality, and hopefully everything will be OK.

“Hopefully, the situation will be fine and we can carry on playing football, that is what he has to do.”

A pass from Shelvey led to United’s first goal against Burton, which was scored by Dwight Gayle.

Shelvey has six assists so far this season, putting him third in the table for the Championship.

Only Barnsley’s Conor Hourihane and Huddersfield Town’s Tommy Smith have created more goals than the England international, signed from Swansea City for £12million in January.

Newcastle take on Sheffield Wednesday at St James’s Park on Boxing Day.