Rafa Benitez explains why he left Jonjo Shelvey out of his Newcastle starting XI

Rafa Benitez has explained his decision to leave Jonjo Shelvey out of his Newcastle United starting XI.

Saturday, 18th March 2017, 7:18 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:49 am
Jonjo Shelvey

Shelvey started this afternoon's goalless draw against Birmingham City on the bench.

The midfielder was left out of Benitez's team after complaining of a "fever" on the eve of the game.

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Rafa Benitez reacts to Newcastle's goalless draw at St Andrew's '“ and Matt Ritc...

Shelvey was sent on late in the game as Newcastle – who had a first-half goal from Matt Ritchie controversially disallowed – pressed for a winner at St Andrew's.

"Jonjo had a high fever yesterday, and the doctor told me this morning he wasn't too sure whether he could start," said Newcastle manager Benitez, whose side lead the Championship by a point after Brighton and Hove Albion were beaten 2-0 by Leeds United this evening.

"I decided it would be better to try to manage the game with fresher legs and players who had trained.

"Then with him it was a case of maybe trying to change something by playing him in the last 15 minutes."

Birmingham goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak denied Ritchie and Daryl Murphy in the second half, and Benitez was happy with his team's application on a difficult pitch.

"I think we showed we could manage the intensity of the game and keep a high tempo," he said. "We were passing the ball well, although the pitch was not the best.

"The idea was to try and control things because we knew how they would play.

"It's not a case of needing to create 20 chances in the space of 10 minutes, because you cannot do that.

"We had the number of chances we were looking for. It's just a pity that the goal was disallowed and their keeper made the difference."

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