Rafa Benitez offers injury update on Jonjo Shelvey after midfielder misses out on Newcastle United friendly squad
Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez admits he will not rush Jonjo Shelvey back into action - despite the midfielder's desperation to return.
Shelvey has had to endure an injury-plagued campaign, which has seen him start just 12 games for Benitez's men.
But the former Liverpool and Swansea City man did take part in all of United's training sessions out in La Finca, Spain, during their five-day warm weather training camp.
He was not, though, involved in the matchday 23 for the 1-1 friendly draw with CSKA Moscow at the Pinatar Arena, Murcia, this afternoon.
Benitez insists Shelvey is close to a return, but because he has so many midfield options - with Ki and Mo Diame back to fitness, and Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden in such good form - the Spaniard will not put pressure on the 26-year-old to get back in the side.
"You can see he has been back in training sessions with the team. The game was too early," revealed Benitez.
"He is pushing - the player wants to play. But sometimes when you have other options it is about managing him, being careful and making sure is fit for the rest of the season."
Shelvey, speaking to NUFC TV, recently opened up on his injury struggles this campaign - with a thigh problem forcing the midfielder to see a specialist.
Speaking from the club's La Finca Golf & Spa resort base, he said: "It was probably my fault in the first place why I’ve been out so long.
"I should have nipped it in the bud and took a few weeks in pre-season to get it right but the way I am, I just wanted to play football and go through the pain barrier.
"You’re in and out and it’s hard to get that momentum, to manage it.
"I was literally just hobbling around the pitch and I can’t give the best account of myself for this football club and for myself so I needed to take the time off.
"It’s been hard and the manager said to me to just nip it in the bud and get it sorted but I just wanted to keep playing and playing and playing.
"Coming out here and starting to re-integrate with the team just brings a smile to your face."