Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has hailed the abilities of the 'tremendous' Sean Longstaff but admitted it has been hard to watch the youngster excel in his position in central midfield.
The former Liverpool man has played just 48 minutes of Premier League football since Christmas Day, having been frustrated by injury. In his place, 21-year-old Sean Longstaff has shone in the middle of the park, playing the full 90 in each of Newcastle's last five fixtures.
In an interview with the club's official website, Shelvey admitted Longstaff has been one of their best players in recent weeks and revealed he would love to play alongside him in the near future.
🎥 Jonjo Shelvey says @seanlongstaff97 has been "absolutely tremendous" since coming into the Newcastle United team - and believes they could play together in the Magpies' midfield.— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) February 14, 2019
Watch the full interview on NUFC TV: https://t.co/V6suvHHKL9 #NUFC pic.twitter.com/tiv5hKVhuL
"I'll be honest, it's hard to watch someone go into your position," Shelvey said. "At the end of the day, they're still your mates as well. I can't speak highly enough of Longy, he's been absolutely tremendous.
"He's so composed on the ball and for such a young lad, he plays like he's been there and done it all. He's a top lad and he's going to have a fantastic career ahead of him."
Longstaff started the campaign with the Under-23s, where he made ten starts in the Premier League 2, scoring once and grabbing four assists along the way. It wasn't until Boxing Day that the 21-year-old made his first appearance of the season for Rafa Benitez's first team, making a 17 minute cameo in their 4-0 loss against Liverpool.
Since then, he has shown incredible maturity in the Magpies midfield and will take some displacing when Shelvey returns to full fitness.
With Newcastle out of action this weekend on account of their earlier exit from the FA Cup, they have travelled to Spain for a warm weather training camp, with Shelvey joining up with the team as he nears a return to first team action.