Mikel Merino on his Jonjo Shelvey partnership and adapting his game to suit Newcastle's style

Mikel Merino admits he has to adapt his own game when partnered with Jonjo Shelvey in the Newcastle United midfield.

Mikel Merino
Mikel Merino

For the first time against Liverpool Rafa Benitez gave the duo their first airing as a pair and it's fair to say they did not disappoint in the 1-1 draw at St James's Park.

Merino admits playing alongside the England international was "comfortable", although his very different, more expansive style of play meant the young Spaniard had to make a few tweaks to his own game in order for things to run smoothly in the United midfield engine-room.

"I was comfortable with him, it worked well," said Spanish Under-21 Merino, of the partnership.

"He wants to play the ball, he wants to help his team-mates whenever everyone is looking for a solution and the important thing is that we have won one incredible point.

"It's true that if you play with one team-mate or another, little things change because you have to adapt to the way your team-mate plays.

"Maybe if you play with a more defensive team-mate you can go a little bit more, maybe if you play with Jonjo you can adapt a little bit and stay a little more.

"Everyone is different but you just have to adapt - it's easy to play with everyone."

While much focus from the outside has been on the personnel selected in the United core, there is not the same importance given to the issue by Merino.

He believes that whether he, Shelvey or Isaac Hayden, so impressive in the opening exchanges of United's return to the Premier League, are picked to partner each other at Southampton on Sunday matters little.

In terms of quality, Merino thinks, the result will be the same.

"It doesn't matter who plays," he said.

"I have been saying this all season, whoever plays will do a great job.

"Liverpool were not an easy team to play against for the midfielders because of the way they play and press, but I think we did well.

"We can play much better though against other teams."