When Newcastle returned to the Premier League this season, many Magpies fans would have been forgiven for thinking that if Rafa Benitez had virtually the same squad at his disposal that led the club to the Championship title, Jonjo Shelvey would be absolutely vital to their chances of survival.
The midfielder was excellent in the Championship, and after a quiet summer at St James' Park, Benitez may well have felt that he was somewhat relying on the former Liverpool man to step up.
Unfortunately, with around half the season gone, Shelvey has been one of the players within the Newcastle squad who has arguably been well below his best, and that has certainly contributed to the club's current position in the Premier League table.
It was his needless red card on the opening day that seemed to cost Newcastle as the two goals they conceded in their defeat to Tottenham came once they were down to 10 men - and he recently received his marching orders for a second time this term, during their 1-0 defeat to Everton.
Meanwhile, the midfielder is still awaiting his first goal of the campaign. Frustratingly however, he provided a glimpse of his quality during the draw with Liverpool at the start of October, when his brilliant pass led to the Magpies' goal.
With the takeover talk at St James' rumbling on, it is difficult to know just what Benitez will be working with during the January transfer window in terms of funds - and if he does not get the funds that he feels he needs to add significant quality to the squad, the likes of Shelvey, and the other big players who are yet to prove themselves this season simply have to step up if the Magpies are to stand a chance of survival.
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