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Five ways Newcastle United could operate without Jonjo Shelvey

With the in-form Englishman potentially being banned for a minimum of five games, Rafa Benitez will no doubt be thinking of ways in which he can replace him in the starting eleven.

Newacaslte United v Brighton & Hove Albion: Sky Bet Championship Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

1. Hayden and Colback

Everybody would agree that this is the likely option that Rafa Benitez will take up. Both Hayden and Colback have been playing alongside Shelvey (at different times), with Rafa clearly believing that both provide the perfect foil for the ex-Swansea man. With regards to playing them both together, this will of course give the team more steel from a defensive standpoint, but the issue is that neither player possesses the forward playing ability of Shelvey. One will have to accept more responsibility for "making things happen" so to speak. This will likely be Hayden, who in his short career on Tyneside has shown glimpses of promising attacking mannerisms.

2. Diame drops deeper

To say Mo Diame has been disappointing thus far is an understatement. Built like an ox and surprisingly nimble on his feet, many have been left bemused as to why it has not worked out for him. When playing, he has been deployed just behind a lone striker, but is that where he belongs? Some have suggested that he should be shifted back into the heart of midfield. Perhaps this could be good for both him and the team. Alongside a more defensive minded Isaac Hayden (or Jack Colback), Diame would have the same freedom Shelvey has had. Newcastle could benefit from having someone making lung bursting runs from deep, something which Diame has become known for throughout his career. Whether Benitez has this in his mind remains to be seen of course, but it could work a treat, re-energizing a player that promised so much in the summer.

3. Time for 4-4-2

This is probably the most popular option within the fan-base. One man who has been setting Newcastle (and Wales) alight lately is Aleksandar Mitrovic. His goal on Saturday night took his personal tally to seven goals in his last six matches for club and country. As the song says, “Mitro’s on fire”. However, up until quite recently, he has found himself sitting on the side-lines watching Dwight Gayle banging the goals in. Supporters have been begging to see both men on the field at the same time. It is easy to see why. With Mitrovic’s strength and hold-up play and Gayle’s pace in behind, it seems like a match made in heaven. However, Benitez has always heavily favoured the 4-2-3-1 formation that he has used all season. Is this untimely Jonjo Shelvey controversy something that can change the manager’s mind-set? Time will tell. One thing for sure though is that, if on Sunday 20th November, the team sheet shows Mitrovic and Gayle playing together, fans will definitely be excited. The number 9 of now and the number 9 of the future.

4. Tiote returns

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Once hailed as one of the best defensive midfielders in the country, Cheick Tiote has had an almighty fall from grace. Injuries, off the field issues and a sheer lack of motivation have seriously halted his footballing career. When he was substituted on against Aston Villa earlier this season, his cameo performance was so disheartening to watch. I still remember that night at St James', when Newcastle beat Manchester United 3-0, and Tiote was head and shoulders above the rest. At the time he was as hard as nails and had a real desire to cover every blade of grass. Now he just appears to be nothing more than a lazy old man. As much as I think Rafa rates him, it seems as if he will do all he can before resorting to bringing him back into the Newcastle midfield. As far as many supporters see it, his days in black and white are numbered. Sad, but true. He won't be forgotten though, that is for sure. "That goal" against Arsenal will live on in the hearts of us all.

5. Joey Barton

Public response to this idea has been...interesting, to say the least. A resounding “NO” would be the only way to describe fan response to the idea of a Newcastle return for the Scouse midfielder. Joey Barton, one of the warriors of the Chris Hughton era, is actually well liked within the region, though. However, whilst his talent has never been in doubt, the 34 year old has found himself facing the same problems constantly in his career. Last week, after returning from a six week suspension at Rangers, he was then bizarrely "written off with stress" and ultimately finds himself without a club once more. With a betting charge also looming over his head, I think many would agree with me when I say that it would be wise to stay away from this one.


It remains to be seen exactly what is to happen with Jonjo Shelvey. He has easily been one of the best performers for the Magpies in this campaign. To say that we won’t miss him in the middle of the park would be ludicrous, but we should all have the upmost confidence in Rafa to find a solution. Whether it is a five game ban as reported, or more, we have no choice but to accept it. Innocent until proven guilty, but if found guilty, Jonjo should be ashamed of himself.