Is Gareth Southgate listening to Rafa Benitez?
On the eve of Saturday’s home game against Arsenal, Benitez had made his feelings clear on Jonjo Shelvey and England.
Shelvey hasn’t played for his country since joining Newcastle United in January 2016.
Will the midfielder get get to add to his six caps?
“Why England? Because he’s a good player,” said Benitez. “Yes, he has to improve things, and he will become an even better player, but he has the potential (to play for England).”
England manager Southgate turned up at St James’s Park the following day for the game.
Was he there primarily to see Shelvey? Or Jamaal Lascelles? Or Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck? We don’t know.
Of course, Jacob Murphy and Isaac Hayden, handed starts against Arsenal, are former England youth internationals.
If he had hoped to assess Shelvey or Lascelles, it was a case of bad timing. Shelvey, back in the squad after recovering from a thigh problem, was an unused substitute while Lascelles was replaced at the break, having twisted his ankle in the warm-up.
The defender is now being assessed ahead of Saturday’s game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Shelvey and Lascelles can only hope that Southgate’s next visit to St James’s Park is more fruitful for them – and Newcastle.