Jonjo Shelvey’s not normally a man of many words when he meets the press.
The Newcastle United midfielder, normally, prefers to let his feet do his talking.
If you look at the competition, we’re crying out for a central midfielder for our country, in my opinion. But it’s just a matter of saying the right things in the press and things like that.Jonjo Shelvey
Shelvey, however, had a few things to get off his chest last July.
Sat down with a clutch of journalists in the basement of a Sports Direct store in Dublin, the 25-year-old, normally a reluctant interviewee, opened up.
Shelvey hasn’t played for England since joining Newcastle two years ago.
“If you look at the competition, we’re crying out for a central midfielder for our country, in my opinion,” he said.
“But it’s just a matter of saying the right things in the press and things like that.
“That’s what goes on these days. It’s so fickle, if you like.
“All I can do is just show in my performances that I warrant a place in the England team.”
Shelvey, an influential player for the club in the Championship, worked hard over the summer months to be ready for this season.
He looked fit and sharp in pre-season, but he hasn’t been so influential so far this term.
Shelvey has missed 450 minutes of football through two suspensions, and he’s had to compete with summer signing Mikel Merino for a place in Rafa Benitez’s team.
Gareth Southgate, England’s manager, was at St James’s Park last weekend to watch Shelvey and Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles.
England Under-21 internationals Jacob Murphy and Isaac Hayden were unused substitutes for the game, which ended 1-1.
Shelvey, playing against his former club Swansea City had a decent game, but he was nowhere near his best.
And the Londoner, a target for boyhood club West Ham United in this month’s transfer window, hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Shelvey refused manager Rafa Benitez’s offer of a handshake as he left the field.
Benitez had seen it all before. He was unfazed.
Asked if it was a show of petulance, United’s manager said: “No. When players leave the pitch, especially when the team is losing or drawing, they want to stay there and make a contribution or make the difference, so you have to understand that.
“When you’re not winning a game, like this one, so important, any player has to be disappointed if they do not continue playing. But we have to make the substitutions, and that’s it. I didn’t have any problems with what he did.”
Shelvey must now wait to find out whether he did enough to keep his place for tomorrow evening’s game against Premier League leaders Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
It’s the kind of game that Shelvey needs to play in – and play well in – to earn a recall to Southgate’s England squad ahead of the World Cup finals in the summer.
Benitez is adamant that Shelvey will not be leaving United in the transfer window, and it’s not difficult to understand why.
The Romford-born player is a match-winner. He’s got good vision and good feet. He sees passes that other players don’t.
Merino can see, and play, a difficult pass too, though he’s still picking up his own form since returning from a back injury late last year.
We need to see more from Shelvey – and Merino – in the second half of the campaign.
Shelvey said in that interview that international recognition was about “saying the right things”.
It’s not. It’s about doing the right things.
We know Shelvey’s got the technique to play for his country. However, Shelvey, sent off twice this season, needs to show that he’s got the temperament to play at the top level.