Rafa Benitez reveals his thinking on Jonjo Shelvey ahead of his Newcastle return

Jonjo Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey

Jonjo Shelvey will have to fight to get back into Rafa Benitez's starting XI.

That's the view of Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez.

Shelvey has served a three-game ban for his dismissal in the club's Premier League season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur.

READ MORE: Joselu reveals why his Newcastle debut was so ‘emotional’

The midfielder was sent off for deliberately treading on Dele Alli's ankle at St James's Park.

Shelvey, 25, comes back into contention for the September 10 fixture against his former club Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

However, Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden were outstanding in Saturday's 3-0 win over West Ham United.

And Newcastle manager has spoken about Shelvey's imminent return.

The club struggled to win without Shelvey in the Championship last season, but the signing of Merino has given Benitez another option.

Asked about the team's difficulties without Shelvey last season, Benitez said: "Yes, but I would also like to win with Shelvey.

"It was important that every player, and those that came from the bench, that if you play well the next player has to do the same.

"That’s perfect for the team. And, for sure, he will have to fight for his place back when the team plays like that.

"Now they will have chance to relax and we will see how they compete in training."

Benitez likened Merino to former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso after the West Ham game.

Asked about Merino's midfield partnership with Hayden, Benitez said: "Isaac's working hard to improve.

"One of the main things you try and teach them is their understanding of the game – to have the compassion and commitment to know what to do in every situation.

"The gameplan was to work very hard, and in two or three things they were crucial in that.

"The plan was to stop West Ham doing their job, and they did that very well."