Sky pundit Phil Thompson believes Jonjo Shelvey should be considered by Gareth Southgate for England’s World Cup squad – however he feels he must prove that he can ‘handle’ the defensive side of the game to earn a call-up this summer.
The NUFC midfielder has been outstanding in recent wins at St James’ Park, putting in his best display in black and white in the 1-0 win over Man Utd and bagging two assists in our recent 3-0 victory over Southampton.
In a piece for Sky, pundits picked their wildcards to earn a surprise place on England’s plane to Russia and, despite choosing Burnley’s centre-back James Tarkowski as his pick, he makes a case for and against Jonjo Shelvey.
Here’s what he had to say:
“I also think Jonjo Shelvey should be considered (for England’s World Cup squad),”
“He does something that most of our other midfield options don’t in always looking to play the ball forward, but he’s got to prove he can handle the defensive side as well.”
It’s probably a fair assessment, however Shelvey has definitely developed the defensive side of his game under Rafa Benitez over the past year or so. He wouldn’t be picked if he hadn’t and his all action display in the win over Man Utd was a prime example of this.
In the same breath, his lack of tracking in the 2-2 draw at Bournemouth shows how he can sometimes switch off defensively, however his forward-thinking approach on the ball may just make him worth the risk for England – a squad severely lacking in positive passers.
Do you think Jonjo deserves a call-up to tomorrow’s England squad?