Shelvey could be man to provide X-factor for England – Benitez

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Rafael Benitez is convinced Jonjo Shelvey can give England something different as manager Gareth Southgate looks for a new Paul Gascoigne.

Southgate bemoaned the lack of a “game-changing” midfielder during the latest international break and, while Newcastle’s Shelvey maybe a different type of player to the former Magpies star, club boss Benitez is convinced he has plenty to offer at international level.

Asked if he could be a creative force for England, the Spaniard said: “For me, yes, for sure, because he has the quality, he has the vision, he can make these passes that strikers like behind the defenders, things like that.

“But especially because in a team, in a squad, you have to have different kinds of players and I don’t see too many like Jonjo in the team.

“Southgate is the manager, he has to decide. I am the manager of Newcastle United, Shelvey is my player. Can he play for England? Yes, that’s it.”

Shelvey has endured a frustrating start to the new season, having missed the last three games with a thigh injury, but he and Matt Ritchie, who has sat out the last two with a knee problem, are back in the squad for Saturday’s Premier League clash with Arsenal.

Newcastle have managed only a point from their first four league games and head into the weekend in 18th place in the table after a tough run of fixtures which has seen them lose by the odd goal to Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City.

However, they beat the Gunners 2-1 on Tyneside in April as they marched to a top-10 finish and their manager is confident better fortunes are just around the corner.

Benitez said: “We will have a chance, but you are talking about a team with good players, so the tactics have to be right.

“Last year we had some games in a row we weren’t winning, but we were close, we were missing a chance and then maybe they would score. Things like that can happen in every game and that is why football is so difficult.

“In terms of confidence, to know that you can do it is important.”

Benitez will make late decisions on United States international DeAndre Yedlin and Venezuela counterpart Salomon Rondon after they returned to training only on Friday after lengthy midweek trips.

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