Jonjo Shelvey: Rafael Benitez says Newcastle United midfielder vital to Magpies
Jonjo Shelvey's return from a five-game suspension has given Championship leaders Newcastle United a major boost, manager Rafael Benitez has said.
The 24-year-old midfielder returned for Newcastle's FA Cup third-round victory over Birmingham on Wednesday.
Benitez told BBC Newcastle: "We know he is an important player for us and there are not too many players like him.
"Quality in the middle can make a difference. It was really important and a big boost for the team."
Shelvey was found guilty of using racially abusive language by an independent panel, a charge relating to a game against Wolves in September, and he last played for the Magpies in a 2-1 win at Burton on 17 December.
Benitez took the opportunity to field a number of the club's youth-team players in the 3-1 win over fellow Championship side Birmingham.
The Spaniard continued: "I think it is important for the academy players to see that they can go through and play.
"There were a lot of positives. Hopefully there will be no problems and we can be ready for the next game."