Eddie Howe’s men have won five of their last six matches in the top-flight and are currently sitting fourth in the table after 13 matches.
The Magpies hammered Aston Villa 4-0 at St. James’ Park last time out as goals from Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron and Joelinton secured the emphatic win.
However, Howe will be without one of his goalscorers from that match as Joelinton picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and is now suspended for this clash with the Saints.
This means that the manager will be forced into making at least one change to his starting XI and a player he should consider bringing into the team is central midfielder Jonjo Shelvey.
The Englishman has not started a single game in the Premier League this season, after recently returning from injury to make two appearances off the bench, and must now be unleashed for the first time.
Shelvey was superb in the top-flight last term as he caught the eye as part of Newcastle’s resurgence under Howe following PIF’s takeover and Steve Bruce’s subsequent departure.
The £70k-per-week gem, who was once described as a “Rolls-Royce” by teammate Isaac Hayden, averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.93 across 23 outings in 2021/22 – ranking him sixth in the squad – as he put in consistently impressive performances.
Current Newcastle full-back Matt Ritchie previously claimed that Shelvey has the talent to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world, saying:
“I remember playing against him as a kid. I think he was 14 – we were playing Charlton U16s at Portsmouth – and I think he scored a hat-trick. He was unbelievable.
“Obviously, he’s got his moves and he’s ended up at Newcastle. But I say to him very regular: ‘Jonj, if you had your head screwed on, you could play for Barcelona so easily.’
“He’s that good, isn’t he? He is, though. He’s that good.”
These quotes, along with his statistics from last season, highlight the quality he can provide on the pitch as he has the natural ability in possession to spread passes around the pitch.
Therefore, Howe must unleash Shelvey from the start as he has now had two games off the bench to build his fitness back up and this clash with Southampton is a chance to get a big chunk of minutes in the tank for the midfield maestro.
He could either replace Joelinton – with Joe Willock moving out wide – or one of Willock or Sean Longstaff in the middle of the park.