By Dominic Toner
Rafael Benitez has revealed he is pleased with Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey.
The 24-year-old fell out of favour with manager Benitez last season and was dropped from the starting XI in the closing months, despite being stand-in captain in the absence of the injured Fabricio Coloccini.
Shelvey has regained his place in the side this campaign and has been a huge factor in Newcastle’s impressive start in the Championship.
The central midfielder has made 13 appearances this season, including playing in all 11 league games.
Benitez has explained that he is thrilled with Shelvey and believes he is performing well ahead of their Championship match with Brentford on Saturday.
“I’m really pleased with Jonjo – he is doing well,” Benitez said, as quoted by the club’s official Twitter account. “He’s continued to work hard. Nobody has any doubt about his quality.”
Shelvey has scored three goals and supplied three assists this season, including a fantastic long-range effort against QPR.
He has been capped six times by England and at 24 could still have a future for his country.
The midfielder enjoyed successful spells at Swansea and Liverpool, but a dip in form saw his reputation tarnished.
Newcastle are attempting to secure an immediate return to the top-flight and an in-form Shelvey will be crucial if they are to do so.
The Magpies are currently third in the table and will be eyeing Huddersfield and Norwich, who currently sit in the two automatic spots.
In other Newcastle team news, a Sky Sports pundit believes the club have achieved a difficult thing.