Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez insists Jonjo Shelvey will not be sold in the January transfer window – but refused to talk about any potential incomings at St James’ Park.
Benitez caused something of a stir last weekend with his claim that it would be “a miracle” if the Magpies retained their Premier League status this season.
That was interpreted as a shot across the bows of owner Mike Ashley ahead of January, with the manager still bemoaning the club’s summer transfer dealings, which he believes left them at a disadvantage in the battle for survival, with their rivals having invested heavily.
However, he was maintaining a silence over transfers at his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon, although he did confirm that Shelvey is staying put and that one player – Rob Elliot – was available for sale.
“I decided before I came to the press conference not to talk about the transfer window,” said Benitez.
“I speak to Lee Charnley (the managing director) everyday but I decided not to talk about the transfer window.
“I prefer not to talk too much, that is it, it is my decision.”
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Benitez did say enough, however, to rule out letting Shelvey leave next month.
There has been speculation that Fulham are ready to offer skipper Tom Cairney, a long-term Magpies target, for him in a swap deal.
“No. No chance. He’s an important player for us,” Benitez said when quizzed on the rumours.
“Ki [Sung-yueng] and him are the players who technically can pass the ball well and keep it, they give confidence to the rest of the team. I hope he will be as important as he was last year.”
Benitez has, however, told goalkeeper Elliot he can leave in January after seven years at the club.
“We are not interested in selling anyone. The only one that is available in the window is Rob Elliot,” he said.
In the meantime. Benitez will concentrate on the task of bouncing back from a 4-0 Boxing Day defeat at Liverpool when he sends out his team at Vicarage Road, with Shelvey available after a five-game absence with a thigh injury.
Reflecting upon a bad day at Anfield and looking to what lies ahead, the manager said: “We have to be really concentrated and focused on every single game. We cannot make mistakes.
“If we make mistakes we can lose against anyone and, against the top sides, it makes it even easier to lose.
“Do I have confidence we can do it? Yes. But if we do, it will be because everything is right.”