Steve Bruce admits Jonjo Shelvey suffers from a “perception” issue but has seen enough to consider handing him the Newcastle captaincy.
Regular Magpies skipper Jamaal Lascelles has been ruled out until the new year with a fractured tibia, meaning Bruce not only has to choose a replacement at centre-half but a new on-field leader too.
Ever-present goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and Ciaran Clark could come under consideration as stand-ins for the trip to Aston Villa, though the latter must first prove his fitness after returning from international week with a knock.
But Bruce is also tempted by Shelvey, despite acknowledging some of the concerns he has heard about the player’s robustness and commitment.
Those worries do not tally with his own experience of the 27-year-old, who has impressed with his eagerness to work back to full fitness.
“I’ve got another decision to make… (Shelvey) seems to be the normal one, to put it on him, and I’ve got no problem with that,” he said.
“He’s got this perception about him that he doesn’t care… that’s wrong. He’s a good pro, he’s a good lad, and he’s popular.
“He trains well and I’ve got no problem. If it seems to be that I won’t upset that (with the captaincy), then we’ll give it to him.”
Shelvey has only featured in half of the club’s 12 Premier League games thus far but Bruce has revealed that is at least partially down to fitness concerns.
“I think Jonjo carried an injury for a while and tried to just play through it and play with it and I think that’s hampered him for a while,” he explained.
“His physicality was terrific in the last two games and this perception that he can’t run is not right. I think he’s fit and now he’s got to hit those levels. If he hits those levels with me then he’ll be fine because we all know the ability he’s got, it’s the other side which you know he has to do and he’s done it.”