As if the 5-0 defeat to Manchester City in the Etihad wasn’t enough...
Newcastle arrived in Manchester for the weekend’s game against the Sky Blue and something—at least to me—caught my attention when the Starting XI of the Magpies was announced. No Joe Willock? Made sense to me, as I didn’t quite expect him to make it to the starting set of players. No Jonjo Shelvey? That was a little bit weirder, even more considering Sean Longstaff was out there as the third midfielder without many quirks and tweaks in the lineup as to consider him before Jonjo.
Well, turns out the truth was lost in the little details. Howe made clear that Jonjo and Joe were just not fit enough to make it to the pitch today, both staying out with injuries. Shelvey seems to be nurturing calf problems while Willock would have a banged-up knee.
More worrying—at least for the remainder of the month—is the fact that both midfielders will miss the two games left on the Toon schedule: the home finale against Arsenal next Monday and the visit to Burnley to wrap up the year. Ugh.
Willock’s knee has not been in full shape for the better time of two months already, and the decision to leave him out from now to August surely feels like a precautionary measure to avoid further damage. Shelvey’s issues seem to be nagging ones adding to a long-time array of soft-tissue problems, though nothing too concerning popping out of nowhere.
Here’s hoping both can properly recover and enter the 2022-23 campaign at the peak of their powers!