Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has been left raving over the attitude of midfielder Jonjo Shelvey after he made a shock return from injury to star in the win over Southampton on Saturday.
The 26-year-old had sat out the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool after a long-standing knee injury had worsened in the draw against Bournemouth, and looked a major doubt for the visit of the Saints.
However, he replaced Mikel Merino in the centre of the park and made an immediate impact, setting up Kenedy for his second minute opener, and continued to dictate play until his substitution late on, picking up another assist for Matt Ritchie’s second half strike.
After making the stunning reveal that he had taken pain killing injections to overcome his injury and play on Saturday, Benitez has been left raving over the midfielder’s dedication to the cause, admitting that it was touch or go over whether he would feature, but that Shelvey’s desperation meant he was ready to start.
He told the Shields Gazette: “On Tuesday, even Wednesday, we were talking about that. (Shelvey not playing)
“He was pushing, he was desperate to play and credit to him because he did well.
“In another case, maybe another player would not be playing, but he decided to play, took the risk, and it was quite positive.
“He’s someone who has a personality and confidence in himself. The commitment is there. That’s the best way to improve.”
Shelvey has made 24 appearances across all competitions this season, with his assists on Saturday his first of the campaign.
Football Insider verdict
Newcastle fans would have been loving Shelvey’s admission about how he managed to get ready to play against Southampton, and it looks as though his sacrifice has impressed his manager too. There were questions asked over the 26-year-old’s attitude earlier in the campaign, especially over his discipline and maturity, but this shows a side of the midfielder fans might not have seen before. He is fully dedicated to the side and will do anything to be a star man for the Magpies. Benitez wants hard workers in his side and Shelvey is certainly showing the boss what he wants to see.
In other Newcastle United news, the Magpies’ players have been rated and slated in our ratings against Southampton.