Steve Bruce has revealed that Jonjo Shelvey picked up a knee injury against Arsenal, and the Magpies now look dangerously short of options in the middle of the park.
We were unsure how Bruce was going to line his new-look Newcastle side up, but the former Sheffield Wednesday boss opted for a 5-3-2 in the 1-0 defeat to the Gunners.
Everything fell apart after left-back Jetro Willems replaced Shelvey though, and now it seems the ex-Liverpool midfielder may miss more than just the final 40 minutes of Sunday’s clash.
This could become a major issue if the gaffer wants to continue with three central midfielders.
As reported by The Chronicle, he said: “Jonjo was injured. We don’t think it’s too serious, but he was restricted in his movement.
“We don’t expect it to be too bad.”
The good news of course is that Bruce doesn’t believe the injury to be severe, but the Englishman has suffered a serious knee injury before, so they certainly can’t rush him back.
Even if he only misses a couple of games, Jack Colback was not included in the club’s Premier League squad, while Mo Diame left Tyneside when his contract expired this summer.
This means the manager now only has three fit players for the position – Sean Longstaff, Isaac Hayden and Ki Sung-yeung.
Longstaff himself has only just recovered from injury and is still very new to top-flight football, while Ki has only played 19 times for the club.
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Put simply, Hayden is now the sole fit midfielder with any real experience and there is absolutely zero depth, meaning one more injury could force Bruce into the type of decision he made on Sunday, forcing someone to play out of position.
That failed move effectively won the game for Arsenal thanks to Willems’ mistake and the lack of shape once Shelvey went off, and Magpies fans better hope Shelvey recovers quickly, or it may not be the last time we see the boss shoehorn players into their second of third best positions.