With Hayden suspended and Mikel Merino’s return rated ‘unlikely’, we are left wondering who might partner Jonjo Shelvey in the middle of the park against Watford tomorrow. The answer could well be Newcastle United’s forgotten man, Henri Saivet.
The Senegalese international hasn’t made a single appearance in the first team this season, however Mo Diame – our only other obvious midfielder alternative – has done very little to suggest he should be picked again.
Diame played alongside Shelvey in the defeat to Burnley, being the last time Hayden and Merino were both missing, however he didn’t cover himself in glory.
Interestingly, The Chronicle reported that Saivet was then ‘in contention’ to start against Bournemouth in our game that followed – after Diame was unimpressive and Merino and Hayden were carrying injuries – however the latter recovered in time so returned to the side.
This time around, Hayden won’t be returning as he is ruled out via suspension and, with Merino unlikely to make it, that leaves Diame and Saivet as the only viable options to play alongside Jonjo Shelvey.
Here’s what Saivet had to say in a recent interview – suggesting his chance will come at some point after only featuring for the U-23’s so far this season:
“He (Benitez) has told me to show what I can do and we need everybody in the squad so I will keep going.
“Maybe one day I will get my chance and show what I can do. I know there will be a chance.”
It could well be Diame that gets the nod, but don’t be surprised if Saivet get his big chance.