Benitez has no trouble making Shelvey captain

Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez says he had no problem making Jonjo Shelvey captain in their 3-1 win over Birmingham City last night.

It was the midfielder's first appearance since he was banned for five games for racially aggravated language against Wolves' Roman Saiss.

No qualms

The Magpies have certainly missed their influential midfielder over the last few weeks and he was back to his best last night, having a hand in all three of Newcastle's goals. 

And when asked whether Benitez had to think about handing Shelvey the captaincy, in the absence of Jamaal Lascelles, the Spaniard replied bluntly, simply saying: "No."

"Because I said before when we had the hearing and everything that for us, it was a surprise," Benitez added. 

The Toon boss was also full of praise for his player, saying: "He's a good player, if he concentrates on his football, he can make the difference."

Zola lauds Shelvey

It wasn't just Benitez who had praise for Shelvey, as opposition manager, Gianfranco Zola also had plenty to say about the 24-year-old.

"Shelvey is obviously a player that when he is on the pitch he runs the show," Zola said.​

The Italian likened Shelvey to new addition Craig Gardner, in the sense that when they are on the pitch, they can make a difference. Zola added,"He is very influential, not only by what he does but by the presence he has on the pitch.​"

The new Blues manager is still waiting for his first win since taking over from Gary Rowett seven games ago.

Much needed return

As mentioned, Shelvey has been missed recently and his return to action last night make take some pressure off Benitez bringing in creative players before the end of the window. 

Speaking about transfers yesterday, Benitez said, “I was talking with Lee this morning and maybe he will give me a surprise in a few hours or a few days.”

The 55-year-old seems relaxed, despite United not making a signing so far in the window.