Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has explained that Jonjo Shelvey remains an 'important' player at the club, but has revealed the midfielder is not exempt from a poor run of form and must fight for his place in the starting lineup.
25-year-old Shelvey was dropped to the substitute bench for Newcastle's away clashes against West Brom and Chelsea, and his manager has given no reassurances that he will return to the fold against Leicester on Saturday.
Newcastle head into their match against the Foxes in a dire run of form, having won just once in their last 10 games, however, when asked why Shelvey had not been called upon in their last two games, Benitez said, via Chronicle Live: "The same reason why, when I pick him, he makes the team.
“He’s a good player. Sometimes he can be there, sometimes he cannot be there.
“But it is exactly the same with [Isaac] Hayden or with [Mikel] Merino or with [Jamaal] Lascelles, or with anyone.
"For me, some players could be different in terms of the quality that they have, but still all of them they will be important at different parts of the season. Maybe some of them will be more important during the whole season, maybe some of them just part of the season.
“Is he an important player for us? Yes. But he has to compete just like everybody’s competing now, and it is the only way for us to succeed,” he added.
Shelvey has started eight of Newcastle's 15 Premier League matches this season having served a three-game suspension for a stamp on Tottenham's Dele Alli earlier in the campaign, a disciplinary issue which Benitez sees no problem with.
He added: “No, [discipline is] not really an issue [for Shelvey]. At the moment I think he made one mistake [his red card against Tottenham Hotspur], and then afterwards he was in control. So hopefully he can be more mature and manage more.”