In Focus: Magpies on red alert after Shelving Jonjo
Nottingham Forest midfielder Jonjo Shelvey could go up against former club Newcastle tonight with his new employers desperate for a positive result.
The enigmatic England international was signed in the January transfer window to add some invention to Forest's fight against relegation.
Currently 14th in the Premier League, the East Midlanders remain only two points clear of the drop zone.
Ahead of their crucial home clash with the Magpies, we take a look at how Shelvey is adapting to life at the City Ground.
This season saw Shelvey enter into the final year of his contract at Newcastle, though there was an extension clause that came close to being triggered.
Yet the interest that was shown in the 31-year-old during the January window gave the Charlton academy graduate sufficiently attractive options that his exit became inevitable.
Eddie Howe has spoken about his reluctant sale of Shelvey and the issues it has created for him.
The Newcastle boss, 45, said: "We are light in midfield. I don't think it was a risk I took. It wasn’t a decision I wanted to take.
"It wasn't a premeditated decision by me to take that risk. It was 99% out of my hands that Jonjo was going to leave.
"We sort of feel a bit of a hole left with his presence gone but it's happened and now we have to make the best out of the situation."
After a hamstring injury ruled Shelvey out action until October, he only made three Premier League appearances for the Tynesiders this term before leaving, with all of them coming from the bench.
Since joining Forest, Shelvey has played five league matches, starting in each of their last four.
A regular when fit for Newcastle last season, the playmaker chose playing time over remaining with a team that he had represented since 2016.
There may have been a temptation for Shelvey to stay at St James' Park, considering that Howe's men are in contention for Champions League qualification.
Instead, he swapped that battle for a relegation dogfight. Many would not have made the same decision, but the Romford-born talent had become a marginalised figure in the North East.
With Newcastle seemingly only moving in one direction and sure to further strengthen their squad over the summer, the chances of Shelvey regaining his first-team spot were slim.
Newcastle’s loss could be Forest’s gain with manager Steve Cooper speaking out this week about the deal and the contribution that he hopes Shelvey will deliver.
The 43-year-old Welshman said: "We knew that when we signed Jonjo, the player that we were getting and maybe where else he could have gone as well.
"So we’re looking forward with him, he’s settled in well. He’s probably a little bit feeling like all of us, really eager to get this whole thing together in terms of performances.
"But he’s shown good commitment to how we want to be and I have no doubt that the contribution over the run-in will be a positive one."
Over the last four games in which Shelvey has started, Forest have lost their two away games but picked up valuable home points with draws against Manchester City and Everton.
If Forest are to stay up, they need to end their run of five games without a win and quickly.
The game against Newcastle is a tough one but is followed by another home match against relegation rivals Wolves after the international break and then a trip to Leeds, who are also looking to avoid the drop.
Shelvey has mainly been employed as a deep-lying anchorman since joining the club. Having completed the full 90 minutes in his last two games, he seems to be regaining fitness.
Forest will hope that results in their No6 becoming more of an influence on the team in the critical weeks ahead. His experience and passing ability could make a real difference to Cooper’s side.
Now in the later years of his career, Shelvey has decided to tackle a big challenge rather than settle for an easier path. If he wants to remain a Premier League player, he knows what he has to do.
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