Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has told Jonjo Shelvey to be ready to make an impact as the midfielder awaits his chance to get back into the team.
Shelvey will hope for a first start since the opening day of the season when former club Liverpool arrive at St James’ Park on Sunday, having been limited to two appearances as a substitute since his return from suspension.
Benitez, who signed Shelvey during his time at Anfield only to leave the club days later, knows exactly what the 25-year-old has to offer but was giving opposite number Jurgen Klopp no clues about his prospects of a return this weekend.
He said: “You always try to find the balance between your attack and your defence, and we will try to do that.
“Obviously we know that Jonjo is a great player, so if he is doing well in a game, it means that the team will be playing well.
“He will have a chance, for sure, to impress. I don’t know if it will be from the beginning in this game or maybe another one – I don’t want to give any clue to Jurgen – but he’s an important player for us.”
It will be an emotional day for Benitez as he goes into battle with the club at which he spent four hugely successful years, winning the Champions League, the European Super Cup, the FA Cup and the Community Shield.
However, while only too aware of the threat the Merseyside club pose to his hopes of bouncing back from last weekend’s defeat at Brighton, he is adamant victory will be the only thing on his mind.
The Spaniard said: “We try always to win. I am not thinking about anything else other than trying to get three points.
“After it depends how the game goes – maybe one point is good enough – but at the beginning, just try to get three points.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is confident his misfiring players will rediscover their goalscoring touch soon.
In the Premier League era the Magpies have become their favourite opponents, with the Merseysiders scoring 88 times against them with 36 coming at St James’ Park – more than they have managed at any other stadium in that time.
Their next strike will be their 100th league goal of all time on the ground and there has not been a goalless draw in any of the last 62 league fixtures between the teams, a run dating back to February 1974.
Striker Daniel Sturridge has scored seven times against them in the league (five at St James’) and he has five in five Liverpool appearances against them.
But even without those statistics, Klopp has no concerns about the goals returning after taking 120 shots but scoring just seven goals in five matches since the 5-0 loss to Manchester City on September 9.
“We all know these boys will score. The difficult thing in a situation like this is to stay confident and do it again and again and again,” said the Reds boss.
“From an average moment there are two directions: less than average and better than average. My work is to help the boys to make sure we do better.
“It makes no sense to criticise finishing, it is about creating. We talk about how to create more.
“It is still my responsibility – but I cannot shoot from the bench.”