Newcastle United have missed midfielder Jonjo Shelvey badly during his latest battle with injury, with the problem starting to affect the performances of Bruno Guimaraes too, according to Sky Sports reporter Keith Downie.
Eddie Howe has overseen a steady start to the Premier League season but is yet to see the Magpies play at their brilliant best this term.
What is the latest on Shelvey?
The 30-year-old is expected to be sidelined until the start of November after suffering a hamstring injury against Benfica in pre-season, according to MailOnline.
Shelvey had initially hoped the problem would not prove to be too serious but ultimately required him to return to the UK for surgery.
Subsequently, Newcastle were reportedly monitoring the situation of Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher as Howe looked to bolster his options, but with the Blues demanding £40 million for their star, the move did not materialise.
Towards the end of August, the manager delivered an update on Shelvey, saying he was ‘pleased’ with the player’s progress.
Howe added that Shelvey was ‘absolutely determined’ to make it back onto the pitch as soon as possible.
In his absence, January signing Guimaraes has been forced to take up a more defensive role in midfield.
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What has Downie said on the situation?
Downie says that it is amazing how much Newcastle’s attacking play seemed to rely on Shelvey’s presence at the base of the midfield.
The Sky Sports reporter adds that the £70,000 per-week star was crucial in allowing Guimaraes to make forays forward and affect proceedings in attack.
Downie told GIVEMESPORT: “It’s amazing. The longer these performances go on, where they’re struggling to create, the more you think, you know what, this team actually misses Jonjo Shelvey. With Shelvey in there last season, just sitting and taking the ball off the defence, he was actually allowing Bruno to push on and get involved and get up and score goals. I don’t think he’s had a goal or an assist yet this season. On Saturday he was played in a more defensive holding role that Shelvey would normally do.”
How have Newcastle performed this season?
With seven matches played, the Magpies have lost just one game and sit in 10th place in what has been a solid start to the campaign.
But they have also won just once and have not picked up a victory since their opening-day triumph over Nottingham Forest.
In those seven games, they have found the back of the net only eight times too, indicating that Downie is right and that Shelvey’s absence has clearly had an impact on productivity in the final third of the pitch.