Newcastle United face a trip to Swansea City on Sunday as they look to record back-to-back Premier League victories.

The Magpies defeated West Ham United two weeks ago to claim their first points since returning to the top flight as Championship winners last term.

In many ways the international break came just at the wrong time for Rafa Benitez’s side, who would surely have relished the opportunity to carry the momentum from that emphatic 3-0 triumph into their next fixture.

The Spaniard has something of a selection dilemma on his hands for the trip to Wales, with central midfielder Jonjo Shelvey set to return to the fold after a three-match suspension.

Some would argue that the 25-year-old, one of Newcastle’s most influential players last season, should be thrust straight back into the line-up, but has he pushed his luck too far with this latest disciplinary transgression?

Almost an ever-present for the Tyneside outfit in 2016-17, Shelvey played 42 Championship matches in total, netting five goals and providing a further nine assists for his team-mates.

He also captained the side five times across all competitions when regular skipper Jamaal Lascelles was unavailable.

The England international has a strong passing range, is a clean striker of a ball from long range and, perhaps most importantly, drives the team forward from the centre of the park.

That this weekend pits Newcastle against Shelvey’s former club Swansea may also play in his favour; the playmaker will certainly be keen to put on a show in front of his old supporters.

However, one could argue that the Romford-born man poses a risk to Benitez with his tendency to get involved in petty incidents on the field.

The sending off against Tottenham Hotspur at the start of August was a prime example; with the match at 0-0 and the Magpies coping with Spurs’ attacking threats, Shelvey trod on Dele Alli’s ankle as the youngster lay on the floor and was immediately dismissed by referee Andre Marriner.

It was not a violent stamp but instead a brainless and petulant act that ultimately cost his team as the visitors coasted to a 2-0 win at St James’ Park.

Ill-discipline has been a theme running through Shelvey’s career, from being sent off for Liverpool against Manchester United as a 20-year-old through to last season, when he was banned for four games after being found guilty of using racially abusive language towards Romain Saiss of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wherever he has been he has found it difficult to master his short fuse and perhaps now is the time for Benitez to lay down the law and give him an extended period on the sideline.

Moreover, Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden performed well in midfield against West Ham and it would be a bold call to drop one of them after such a positive result.

Newcastle proved in that match that they can get the job done without Shelvey and who knows, losing his place in the side may be the wake-up call he needs to amend his behaviour going forward.


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