Rafa Benitez could look to the January window with his key man ruled out for the forseeable future.
Newcastle United may be blessed with one of the strongest squads ever assembled in the second tier, but even Rafa Benitez could legitimately notice a few symptoms of a selection headache after Jonjo Shelvey was given a five-game ban by the FA following an altercation with Wolves’ Romain Saiss.
Few Championship players come close to Shelvey in terms of quality or creation, with the six-time international the instigator of countless Newcastle attacks and a fair few goals, too.
As a result, Benitez will have to do the 24-year-old during a hectic festive schedule featuring league clashes with Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, Blackburn Rovers and Brentford, plus a FA Cup tie with Birmingham City.
And, to stretch his squad just a little further, Senegalese midfielder Mo Diame is expected to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations midway through next month.
All this leaves Newcastle looking oddly light in the centre of the park, with the relentless Brighton breathing down their neck. They could do with a short-term solution, a prodigiously talented midfielder with the vision and class of Shelvey and the physicality and versatility of Diame.
Hopefully in preparation for the ban #nufc have someone lined up in centre mid . Loftus Cheek would be great— GallowgateGossip (@ChatNUFC) December 20, 2016
I'd love it if we got Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan for 6 months #nufc— Dom⚫⚪ (@DomP3arson) December 20, 2016
With Diame off to AFCON, surely #NUFC must be looking at Loftus-Cheek on-loan?— Adam Smith (@adam_smith1990) December 20, 2016
Okay sooo...Shelvey's banned. These new Loftus-Cheek rumours sound a lot more viable now..— ハドさま (@ParisCommaTokyo) December 20, 2016