Rafa Benitez reveals what Jonjo Shelvey’s return means for Sean Longstaff at Newcastle United

Jonjo Shelvey could have to wait for his chance at Newcastle United.

Saturday, 23rd February 2019, 05:00 am
Jonjo Shelvey.

The midfielder has recovered from the injury which has kept him out for the past seven weeks.

Rafa Benitez has also been without Mohamed Diame and Ki Sung-yueng, but United’s manager has everyone fit for this afternoon’s home game against Huddersfield Town.

Sean Longstaff.

However, 21-year-old Sean Longstaff, promoted to the first-team squad last summer, has impressed alongside Isaac Hayden in their absence.

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And Shelvey, Diame and Ki can’t expect to walk back into the starting XI.

“Longstaff is doing well, Hayden has come back,” said Benitez. “They are two different kind of midfielders. We have Ki who can give you some good possession, good decisions.

“We have Diame who is a really good worker, and we have Jonjo who can give you these really good long passes.

“The difficult thing for me now is to pick the right ones for the right games.

“It’s better to have this problem than to have just two (midfielders). It will give us something different.

“Jonjo being fit is very good, and he will increase the competition in the middle of the pitch. It’s very good.”

Asked if he would change his system to accommodate three central midfielders, Benitez added: “We have to analyse these things.

“We play 4-3-3, sometimes 4-1-4-1, sometimes 5-3-1-1, sometimes 5-4-1. When we play with five at the back, with the wing backs high, it’s 3-4-3, so we have different ways to approach the games in terms of systems.

“It’s different if you have (Lionel) Messi, you have different decisions to make, but we’re a team that can adjust depending on what players we have.

“We’re a team who can adapt, who can adjust. We try to do the best for the team.”

Benitez, United’s manager, has admitted that it would be “difficult” to drop Longstaff or Hayden because of their form.

“You can see the team training, and you can see that they’re training well,” said Benitez.

“It’s quite difficult, yes.”