Some bad news on the fitness front today, with the Daily Mail reporting that Jonjo Shelvey is set for ‘at least a month’ on the sidelines.
Craig Hope’s ‘exclusive’ claims that a hamstring injury for the midfielder looks set to keep him out of Saturday’s clash with Norwich and ‘the bulk’ of our fixtures across February.
With Shelvey our current top scorer and key creator in midfield, this is a huge blow – especially when a player of his ability could’ve been the difference in upcoming games against Norwich, Oxford, Crystal Palace and Burnley.
This only adds to Steve Bruce’s injury woes, with Willems and Dummett out for the season, Carroll, Muto and Gayle struggling to stay fit and Manquillo still sidelined after he pulled up in our New Year’s Day defeat to Leicester.
Looking at Shelvey’s potential replacements, we have an out of sorts Sean Longstaff who’s struggled badly of late, new boy Nabil Bentaleb (who’s still regaining his match fitness after making his first start since last April last weekend), Isaac Hayden and Matty Longstaff.
With Sean struggling for form and Matty unlikely to start every week, we could see a partnership of Bentaleb and Hayden over the coming games – especially now Lazaro can slot in at right wing-back (allowing Hayden to move back into the middle).
A huge blow for Bruce and Newcastle, but one that’ll be softened considerably should Bentaleb hit the ground running.