Should Jonjo Shelvey Be Included in the England Squad?

Jonjo Shelvey is an England international who has played his club football for Newcastle United since January 2016. Shelvey has featured 6 times for the national side, most recently on 17 November 2015 when England beat France 2-0 at Wembley Stadium. Despite the fact that Newcastle finished in the top half of the Premier League last season, Shelvey was left out of England’s World Cup 2018 squad; and was more recently left out of Gareth Southgate’s squad for fixtures against Spain and Switzerland.
The Magpies struggled for the first half of last season but drastically improved their form which eventually resulted in a top 10 finish. Many pundits believed that Shelvey had been Newcastle’s best player last campaign despite only scoring one league goal all season. Shelvey had been in contention to make England’s 23-man World Cup squad but failed to make it on to the plane to Russia. England had at times been criticised for their lack of creativity in the centre of midfield, perhaps justified given that England only scored 3 goals from open play.
So why was Shelvey left out of England’s squad? Many believe it was due to injury concerns. Southgate controversially left Jack Wilshere out of England’s squad due to a lack of match fitness so many believed that Shelvey missed out for a similar reason. Shelvey missed a number of games due to injury last campaign, only starting 25 league games all season.
England recently began their UEFA Nations League campaign against Spain, but once again Shelvey was left out of the squad due to injuries. Shelvey missed fixtures against Chelsea and Manchester City before the international break and therefore was out of consideration for the national team in the last international break.
But had Jonjo Shelvey been fully fit for both the World Cup and international break, would he have been selected for Southgate’s squad? In my opinion, he certainly should have been. Shelvey’s ability to pick his head up and look for forward passes is something that England’s squad was lacking in Russia, particularly from a deeper centre-midfield role. Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph and Ruben Loftus-Cheek provide a solid defensive wall in the centre of midfield with great height and strength, but this selection of players fails to bring much of an offensive spark to England’s attack.
Shelvey’s ability to pick out a long forward pass from the centre of midfield is what at times had been missing from England’s attack in Russia and I believe that there may have been a place for him in the squad had he been fully fit. His vision and ability to play long passes could have been another option for England when they wished to speed up the pace of the game and quickly get on the break. Although he may not have had a place in Southgate’s first team, he would’ve been a useful option off the bench to come on and provide a more offensive focus in midfield.
England’s next international fixtures will be against Croatia and Spain in the UEFA Nations League so keep an eye out for Shelvey’s name in Southgate’s next squad if he can avoid any more injury problems.

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