Darren Bent claims that it was harsh of Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce to drop midfielder Matty Longstaff from the starting XI and that Jonjo Shelvey needs to improve his work rate.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Spurs and England striker says that the teenager had not done anything wrong to suggest he should be taken out of the side, having been thrown in by Bruce against Manchester United.
The homegrown talent played three successive games, scoring the winning goal on his debut against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, before dropping to the bench and being left unused versus West Ham and Bournemouth.
Having seen Shelvey take the youngster’s place in the side, Bent insists it was a cruel decision from Bruce but one which has ended up working in the Magpies’ favour thanks to the former Liverpool man’s form.
Bent told Football Insider: “It was harsh but it showed it was the right decision. He scored a great free-kick (v West Ham).
“I do like Shelvey, I think he’s a good player. I do think he needs to be giving more to the cause and maybe realise he’s not at Liverpool any more, he’s not playing with these so-called better players any more so he does need to put a shift in.
“It’s going to be tough at times but at the same time he needs to show them he’s willing to fight for the cause. It’s not always as simple as playing with good players, but he showed his quality and he has got a lot of quality.
“It was harsh on Matty Longstaff but I think he’ll understand and appreciate why.”
Longstaff has a total of four appearances for Newcastle’s first-team under his belt, joining older brother Sean among the senior squad after the latter’s breakthrough last season.
Shelvey meanwhile has played eight times across all competitions this campaign, six of his appearances coming among the starting XI in the Premier League.
In other Newcastle United news, Paul Robinson has been blown away by a “phenomenal” player after the win over Bournemouth.