Eddie Howe’s seven-word explanation over Jonjo Shelvey’s Newcastle United absence at Everton

Jonjo Shelvey has missed Newcastle United’s last two games - both of which have ended in defeats at Chelsea and Everton.

Back-to-back defeats for Newcastle United have coincided with Jonjo Shelvey’s absence from the matchday squad.

The central midfielder played every minute of the Magpies’ nine-game Premier League unbeaten run, which stretched between December 27 to March 10.

Since dropping out of the starting XI, the Magpies have lost both games at Chelsea and Everton, which is perhaps no coincidence.

Following Eddie Howe’s arrival as head coach in November, the 30-year-old missed just one match prior to the last two games.

Once a divisive figure among Newcastle fans, the former Liverpool man has become integral under Howe.

Illness ruled Shelvey out of the trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday. And ahead of Everton, Howe said he was “waiting to see” how he was.

The team news was announced an hour before kick-off on Thursday night and there was no sign of Shelvey on the teamsheet.

When asked if Shelvey was close to making the squad at Everton, Howe bluntly responded: “No, Jonjo’s ill so he missed out.”

Howe didn’t go into any further detail but with United currently at the start of their 16-day break, it is hoped Shelvey will return for Tottenham Hotspur on April 3.

Certainly, based on the evidence at Goodison Park, Shelvey’s return will be a huge boost in the battle against relegation.

Newcastle sit nine points above the drop zone with nine games left to play.