Rafa Benitez reacts to Jonjo Shelvey's superb comeback for Newcastle

Rafa Benitez says Jonjo Shelvey was "desperate" to play against Southampton.

Sunday, 11th March 2018, 8:14 am
Updated Sunday, 11th March 2018, 8:25 am
Jonjo Shelvey and Rafa Benitez

Benitez had all but ruled the Newcastle United midfielder out of yesterday's game at the start of the week with the knee injury he suffered against Bournemouth late last month.

However, Shelvey returned to training ahead of schedule and made clear his determination to play.

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And the 26-year-old was outstanding as Newcastle beat Southampton 3-0 to climb up to 13th in the Premier League table.

Shelvey set up Kenedy's second-minute opener with a lofted pass and rolled the ball to Matt Ritchie for United's third goal.

“When we were talking about him, the idea was maybe that he couldn't play," said Newcastle manager Benitez.

"On Tuesday, even Wednesday, we were talking about that.

“But he was pushing, he was desperate to play and credit to him because he did well. In another case, maybe another player would not be playing, but he decided to play, took the risk, and it was quite positive."

Shelvey has been working to improve his disciplinary record, having been sent off twice this season.

Benitez said: “He's someone who has a personality and confidence in himself, so he has to do that like the majority of these players.

"They try and we have to improve little things, but at least the commitment is there. That's the best way to improve and to be sure that the team as a team is stronger."