Rafa Benitez gives benched Jonjo Shelvey a glimmer of hope at Newcastle

Jonjo Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey

Rafa Benitez's told Jonjo Shelvey what he needs to do to force his way back into his starting XI.

Shelvey has found himself on Newcastle United's bench since returning from a three-game suspension.

The midfielder, dismissed on the opening weekend of the Premier League season for stamping on Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli, has been kept out of the team by the form of loan signing Mikel Merino.

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And Shelvey, outstanding in the first half of United's Championship-winning campaign, is likely to among the substitutes again tomorrow when Benitez's fourth-placed side take on Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.

“It's something they have to understand," said Benitez.

Mikel Merino

Mikel Merino

"I've had another word with Jonjo, and he knows my idea and he knows the way change things is every training session to show the quality that he has and what we are expecting from him, so the reaction of the players is fine.

“The problem even when you are doing well, the manager has to decide.

“He can change it, because Jonjo is a good player, and also (Mohamed) Diame, when he has come in, has worked very hard, so I don't have any problem to change players if it's necessary, and we will see.

“If I have to pick a couple of players for the training sessions, it's quite difficult, because they are doing well, all of them.

"But, after, you have to analyse your team, how we are doing and the other team and say 'OK, I will pick these two'.

“But I don't have any problem to play one or the other one because they are training really well.”

Asked if Shelvey and Merino could play together, Benitez added: "Yes, why not?

"I think they have quality, and, if tactically they understand the role of each other, then I can see it, yes."