Amidst an intriguing start to the new Premier League season, Jonjo Shelvey is shining for Gary Monk’s impressive Swansea side.
The former Liverpool midfielder has responded superbly to the doubts surrounding his discipline and work ethic that arose last season, transforming himself into an integral part of Swansea’s team. His strong start to the 2015/2016 campaign has already warranted him a place in the England squad for the latest set of Euro 2016 qualifying matches, albeit, in the absence of regular starters such as Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson.
His first International start did happen to come against a San Marino side ranked 193rd in the world, nevertheless, he was deservedly named man of the match after putting in a composed, professional and inventive performance. The midfielder oozed class and quickly staked a claim for a potential long term place in England’s midfield. Despite his lack of experience, he looked comfortable on the ball and keen to express himself as opposed to shying away and settling for a steady debut, as so many first time starters often do.
After Michael Carrick’s withdrawal from the England squad, Shelvey will surely be given another chance to feature for his country against Switzerland on Tuesday. Carrick had been tipped to start in the holding midfield position with Henderson and Wilshere both injured, however Shelvey now looks a likely option for Roy Hodgson and would have reason to be disappointed if he wasn’t to regain his place in the team.
Having helped England to qualification in their six nil thrashing of San Marino, an opportunity against Switzerland will allow the Swansea midfielder to thrive under less pressured circumstances. It poses as an ideal occasion for him to test himself against much stronger opposition while proving he can challenge for a place in the England squad for the European Championship Finals, next year in France.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will be kicking himself having witnessed a player he decided to sell, in Shelvey, emerge as one of the stand out players so far this season. Swansea’s number eight boasts a combination of composure and urgency when in possession of the ball; his positive thinking is portrayed through the conviction and accuracy in his passes from deep midfield positions into the pockets of space between the opposition midfield and defence that are occupied by the attacking midfielders and strikers ahead of him. While he often demonstrates intelligence in his play by keeping possession, he remains keen to initiate attacks and play exciting football, refraining from being an average central midfielder who persists to play square balls without taking the odd risk.
In addition, he continues to influence the game with perfectly executed, lofted through balls- complimented by the presence of very direct wingers and the runs of Bafetimbi Gomis at Swansea. He was also able to replicate this ability during his performance against San Marino, feeding the movement of Jamie Vardy, Wayne Rooney and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. Ultimately, he possesses the traits that can enable him to play as either a number ten or in a holding midfield role. Besides this, his aggression and fight on the pitch means he can offer defensive qualities to both club and country while his recognised ability to score a goal puts him on the right track towards being a complete midfielder.
For club, he has become reliable enough for Gary Monk to have the freedom to utilise Gylfi Sigurdsson in a position where he can dictate the play around the opposition box with few defensive responsibilities, while Shelvey contributes from the center of the park. As for country, he can, potentially, become part of a midfield consisting of excellent passers of the ball. He could go on to be an good fit alongside Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson, with all three capable of breaking from midfield to support attacks as well as dictating the play from deep positons. If Jack Wilshere is to become the main man in Roy Hodgson’s plans, as many expect him to be, he will benefit from the threat Shelvey carries, by vacating the additional space that will be available as a result of the opposition turning a separate focus towards the Swansea man.
If he continues to progress, Jonjo Shelvey can become a top Premier League player as well as an important man for England.