Jonjo Shelvey had a special message for Newcastle United’s debutants for the the club’s FA Cup tie against Birmingham City.
Shelvey returned from a five-game ban in Wednesday night’s third-round replay at St James’s Park.
I just wanted to go out there and get back to playing like I was before the ban. I’ve gone out there and done that.Jonjo Shelvey
United manager Rafa Benitez – whose side take on Rotherham United in the Championship on Saturday – handed three players their debuts in the game, which his side won 3-1.
Shelvey – who wore the captain’s armband – addressed Dan Barlaser, Stuart Findlay and Yasin Ben El-Mhanni in the pre-match huddle.
“It was nice to find out before the game that I was going to be skipper,” said Shelvey.
“I just said in the huddle before the game to the young lads that us senior lads will help them through the game and to fear nothing and just go out there and enjoy it and be confident.
“They took it on board and did exactly that.”
Shelvey was suspended last month after being found guilty by an independent panel of using racially-aggravated language towards an opponent.
The 24-year-old had strongly denied the charge.
Newcastle missed Shelvey during his lengthy absence, and the England international is just glad to be back after a frustrating spell on the sidelines.
“It’s been a strange month,” said Shelvey. “People said it’s gone quick, but I’ve been sitting at home every weekend and bored to tears.
“It’s good to be finally back. I’ve been working on my fitness a lot.
“When you’re not in the team, it’s important to keep your fitness. It’s hard, as there’s nothing like playing games, and I did get a bit tired towards the end.”
On his match-winning contribution, Shelvey told NUFC TV: “I just wanted to go out there and get back to playing like I was before the ban. I’ve gone out there and done that.
“If picked on Saturday, I’ll do the same.”