Former Sunderland striker Darren Bent has backed Jonjo Shelvey to rediscover his form, having struggled for Newcastle United so far this term.
Shelvey has featured in four of the Magpies’ Premier League fixtures this season (TransferMarkt), but was benched for the Toon’s encounters with Tottenham Hotspur and Watford after leaving much to the imagination against Arsenal and Norwich City.
An injury to Sean Longstaff saw that Steve Bruce recalled former England international Shelvey to his starting line-up against Liverpool, and the 27-year-old retained his place against Brighton & Hove Albion last time out.
Shelvey again failed to impress against the Seagulls, and suggestions have emerged that Longstaff or Ki Sung-yueng may now replace the Romford-born midfielder against Leicester City on Sunday (Daily Star), but Bent has backed the ex-Liverpool and Swansea City man to find his feet, as he is Newcastle’s best player and Bruce needs him to thrive.
Speaking with Football Insider, Bent said: “For me, he looks low on confidence, [but] I still think he’s their best player – the one with all the quality.
“I’ve played with players like him, who are on a different level to everyone else technically – they’re walking around playing and he’s just thinking: ‘What am I doing playing with these players, they’re not doing me any favours.’
“I know he can’t think that, because he’s their best player and they need him. It wasn’t his best game [against Brighton], but I think he’s still got the quality to turn things around.”
In what the Chronicle described as a ‘shambolic’ performance by Newcastle away to Norwich, Shelvey often picked out the wrong man with his passes, and did not appear to fare any better on a difficult evening against Brighton.
With the visitors enjoying most of the ball, Newcastle needed to make their time in possession count, but Shelvey handed the ball over against the Seagulls more than he had against Liverpool, Norwich or Arsenal (WhoScored) with a season-low 71.4% pass success rate.
Shelvey also offered no defensive support against Graham Potter’s Amex Stadium natives, with the 27-year-old recording no tackles for his third league game in a row, and no blocks for the fourth fixture in succession.
If Longstaff is fit, then the North Shields-born midfielder surely has to return to the starting line-up in place of Shelvey, even if Bent feels the elder of the two is Newcastle’s best player, as he simply is not playing as if he is.
Longstaff penned his worst pass success rate away to Tottenham, but completed 80.9% against Watford, along with two tackles and two clearances in each (WhoScored).
Newcastle fans, should Shelvey start if Longstaff is not deemed fit to play? Let us know in the comments below…
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