Newcastle United will have Jonjo Shelvey back next week.
The club has missed him. Badly.
Shelvey will be back for Wednesday night’s FA Cup replay against Birmingham City at St James’s Park.
Will that make everything all right again?
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Newcastle have struggled without Shelvey, and the past couple of weeks have shown illustrated how reliant the team is on the midfielder, who has one game left to serve of the five-match ban he was handed for allegedly racially abusing an opponent.
No wonder Rafa Benitez is so keen to sign a midfielder in this month’s transfer window.
So what if Shelvey gets injured? Or gets another suspension? It’s a worry, undoubtedly.
Benitez, keen to manage expectations on Tyneside, has suggested that he will be happy to go with what he’s got should the club fail to find suitable reinforcements.
Benitez has repeatedly spoken about the difficulties of operating in the window.
United can’t guarantee Premier League football next season to recruits. And the club can’t yet pay Premier League wages.
So the loan market is possibly Benitez’s best hope of finding a player capable of injecting creativity into a midfield which has plodded without Shelvey.
They’ve lacked a final ball and missed his footballing vision.
With him, Newcastle have ploughed through opponents.
Elsewhere, United look well covered, though the injury suffered by Aleksandar Mitrovic against Birmingham last weekend is a concern.
So long as there’s no damage to his knee, he’ll be back in weeks, not months.
There is some unease on Tyneside at a lack of progress in the transfer market.
But few clubs have made progress. The bulk of deals, invariably, will be done in the final days of the window.
One player that won’t be coming to Newcastle is Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says won’t be allowed out on loan.
The name of Loftus-Cheek was put to Benitez earlier this month.
Benitez, disarming as ever, smiled and said there were many more names the media didn’t know about.
Let’s hope so.
Certainly, the club never had any intention of signing Tom Cleverley – who is set to join Watford from Everton – on a permanent basis.
Benitez’s immediate focus is tomorrow’s Championship game against Brentford at Griffin Park.
Second-placed United, so strong away from home in the first half of the season, need a win. Any win.
Everything’s going right for leaders Brighton and Hove Albion right now.
Newcastle need to be ready for when things start to go wrong for them.
Shelvey will help. So, potentially, would a signing.
When Shelvey returns next week, he’ll be loudly welcomed back on to the pitch by United fans.
Shelvey had strongly denied the Football Association charge of using racially-aggravated language towards Romain Saiss before he was found guilty by an independent panel.
Benitez backed Shelvey through what he felt was a “confused” disciplinary process. He also conceded that Shelvey, fined £100,000, made a “mistake”.
Newcastle have also paid a high price for it.