Jonjo Shelvey is set to start the season on the Newcastle United bench – but he won’t stay there for long.
That’s the view of manager Rafa Benitez ahead of the coming Championship campaign.
Shelvey was signed from Swansea City for £12million in January by Steve McClaren, Benitez’s predecessor.
But the midfielder lost his starting place late last season under Benitez, whose side kick off their season with a fixture against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Friday night.
Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic – who, like Shelvey, started the club’s final pre-season friendly on the bench – will miss the first four Championship games through suspension. But Benitez – who intends to rotate his squad given the large number of midweek fixtures –also feels he will have a significant role over the course of a demanding 46-game campaign.
Asked if Shelvey and Mitrovic had a role to play this season, Benitez said: “For sure.
“Mitrovic won’t play a role in the next four games, but after that it’s really important for us that they are available.
“My idea is to give all of them the same chance to compete.
“Then, when we have two games a week, we will make sure we can rotate, and change and they will have to be ready.
“It is difficult to play with 11 players for too many games, so I want to play with a squad, because if you play 46 games, with the cups, you have to be ready to have a big squad.”
Mitrovic, signed from Anderlecht last summer, scored nine Premier League goals in his first season at United.
“I hope I can get goals in the Championship,” he said.