Why Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey can’t expect to walk back into Rafa Benitez’s starting XI

Jonjo Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey

Stick or twist?

That’s the decision facing Rafa Benitez and/or his coaches at Newcastle United ahead of Sunday’s game against Swansea City.

Benitez – who has been recovering on Merseyside from a procedure to clean out an old hernia wound – might yet miss the fixture at the Liberty Stadium.

But Jonjo Shelvey will be back at his former stomping ground, having served a three-game ban for stamping on Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli in the club’s season-opening defeat.

Should Shelvey, the creative spark for the first half of United’s Championship-winning team, walk back into Benitez’s starting XI?

The answer is no.

Mikel Merino, signed on loan from Borussia Dortmund, was superb in Newcastle’s 3-0 win over West Ham United before the break.

Merino should keep his place, though the technically-gifted midfielder is still adjuting to the pace, physicality and intensity of the Premier League.

The 21-year-old needs more time, but, for now, he should keep his place, though Benitez and his staff, however, will want to assess him after his involvement with Spain’s Under-21s during the international fortnight.

Shelvey, not for the first time, let his team down when he planted his boot on Alli’s ankle.

The 25-year-old, signed from Swansea in January last year and certain of a hostile reception at the Liberty Stadium, will want to play.

But he should have to wait at least another game.

Shelvey didn’t have any competition last season, but Merino’s arrival has changed that.

They should bring the best out of each other.