Steve Bruce has landed a huge boost ahead of Newcastle United’s meeting with Liverpool on Wednesday night with Jonjo Shelvey set to make his return.
The Toon were without Shelvey for their 2-0 defeat at Manchester City on Boxing Day after Bruce opted to omit the 28-year-old from his travelling squad, with the midfielder showing signs of serious fatigue following last week’s Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat at Brentford.
But according to The Northern Echo, Shelvey should only miss the Citizens affair with the former Liverpool beast expected to be fit and ready to go for when Newcastle welcome the Reds to St. James’ Park.
Shelvey’s return will be a welcome boost for Bruce as he looks to orchestrate United’s first Premier League win in four games at home to the champions, following defeats to Leeds and Man City while settling for a point with newly-promoted Fulham.
Shelvey has started all eight of his top-flight appearances thus far this season and captained the Magpies on four occasions, but endured a horror show against Scott Parker’s Cottagers while his struggles at Brentford have since been put down to his chronic fatigue.
Nonetheless, the £13m-rated midfielder has been among Newcastle’s most influential players across the Premier League campaign, with only Matt Ritchie (1.6) playing a higher number of key passes per game than Shelvey (1.4) to date, per WhoScored.
Shelvey, who plays the most total passes per game (54) by Newcastle players, additionally ranks second only to goalkeeper Karl Darlow for accurate long balls with 6.5 a game, almost double third-ranked man Fabian Schar (3.3).
Bruce lauded Shelvey for his passing range toward the end of the prolonged 2019/20 season, with the Magpies chief only able to wax lyrical over the 6-cap England international.
“He can see a pass that other people can’t, he can deliver a pass, he can score a goal,” Bruce said, via quotes by the Chronicle. “Physically and mentally, he’s bought into everything we’ve tried to put over to him and fair play to him.
“At the minute, he’s reaping the benefits of how good he looks, and of course he’s playing at the top of his game, which is always good to see because he has been outstanding in the last few games.”
If Shelvey has overcome his fatigue with a week’s rest, Bruce should expect to see the 28-year-old’s recent struggles fade away and be able to utilise his ability on the ball against Liverpool.