Steve Bruce defends Jonjo Shelvey and hints he could captain at Villa 
Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Newcastle United at London Stadium on November 02, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

After an up and down 2019 for Newcastle United, Jonjo Shelvey will be looking to keep his place on Monday night at Aston Villa. 

An enigma among large sets of supporters, Shelvey has divided opinion but remains joint-top scorer at the club this term going into the end of November. 

With the Magpies about to play their first game without club captain Jamaal Lascelles due to injury, head coach Steve Bruce has been left to ponder who his stand-in skipper will be.

Harsh criticism 

When quizzed over Shelvey's worth in the side, Bruce jumped to his midfielder's defence.

"He's got this perception about him that he doesn't care - that's wrong.

"He's a good pro, he's a good lad and he's popular and he trains well and I've got no problem," he said.

Opportunity 

With a starring performance a few weeks ago at West Ham United including the all-important goal, Shelvey was rewarded with another start in the Bournemouth win.

With Sean Longstaff still suspended, and Matty Longstaff demoted to the bench in recent weeks, Shelvey has the perfect chance to keep his place and silence any speculation. 

Taking the armband?

When Lascelles limped off against the Cherries, Shelvey was handed the captaincy but Bruce has admitted he's not sure who will be given the duty on Monday night.

He said: "Honestly, I've not even thought about it.

"That seems to be the normal one - to put it on him, and I've got no problem with that," as Bruce referred to giving him the armband. 

"I think Jonjo carried an injury for a while and tried to play through it and play with it - I think it's hampered him for a while."

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