'He could've got the pet lip!': Steve Bruce reveals Newcastle United player's reaction to decision
Jonjo Shelvey couldn’t get a game aearlier this season.
The Newcastle United midfielder was being kept out of the team by Sean and Matty Longstaff – and Steve Bruce was carefully watching for a reaction.
Shelvey – who is playing for a new contract at St James’s Park with his deal expiring in 2021 – could have “got the pet lip”.
But he didn't. Shelvey overcame the niggling injury which had been hampered him for more than a year – and now he’s both the club’s captain and leading scorer.
The 27-year-old made it three goals in three games – and five in total this season – with a strike in yesterday’s 2-1 win over Southampton at St James’s Park. The win lifted the club up to 10th in the Premier League.
Asked what the change in Shelvey’s fortunes was down to, Bruce said: “Him. A few weeks ago he could have got the pet lip when we played the Longstaff brothers ahead of him, but he’s realised what we want, and he’s buying into it.
“The goals are a great bonus, but it’s not just that. It’s his all-round commitment and attitude to what we require. He’s been excellent, and he’s getting the rewards, which is always nice. It’s nice for him.”
Shelvey took the captain’s armband when Bruce, United’s head coach, lost Jamaal Lascelles to injury a month ago.
And he has led the team, which beat Sheffield United 2-0 at Bramall Lane last week, up the table.
Asked if the responsibility had brought something extra out of Shelvey, Bruce told NUFC TV: “Maybe. He’s got that pride. Absolutely. He’s captaining Newcastle United, so he should have a bit of pride. Absolutely great.”
Shelvey himself felt he needed to add more goals to his game.
“I just go on the pitch and feel like I can score a goal,” he said. “I’ve needed to add that to my game, and I’m doing it now.”
Shelvey, signed from Swansea City in January 2016, had previously never scored more than one Premier League goal in a season for Newcastle.