RAFA BENITEZ has paid tribute to Jonjo Shelvey for showing the right attitude while he has had to wait for his chance in the Newcastle United starting line-up.

The £10m midfielder is being heavily linked with moves away from St James’ Park this summer, with West Ham United one of the clubs keen on him.

Benitez’s contract situation makes it difficult for the Magpies to make decisions on the futures of players, and transfer targets, so Shelvey has had to focus on forcing his way back in to the first team picture.

And, for the first time since limping out of the Watford game on November 3, he was back in a Premier League starting line-up at Brighton on Saturday, when he helped Newcastle to a 1-1 draw.

Before that his substitute appearances had amounted to just 69 minutes since the turn of the year. Even though he has battled with thigh problems, he has been fit for the last couple of months and Benitez has acknowledged that he has had to play the waiting game.

“No I don’t think he’s been frustrated,” said Benitez. “I think he has trained well. He was talking with me saying ‘what do I have to do’ and he has done a lot of things right.

“He had to be ready. The main thing is that when people are doing well, whether it’s in football or in life, sometimes you have to wait.”

Shelvey will now hope to stay in the team to face Liverpool on Saturday night, looking for a strong end to the campaign – just a year after he finished the season as one of the most in-form centre-midfielders in the country.

Newcastle are set for a big summer and there are question marks over a number of players, such as Shelvey. He was preferred in the middle to Mo Diame at Brighton, who is a player out of contract this summer.

Newcastle are looking to tinker with the squad again before next season, regardless of who is in charge. They did recruit Miguel Almiron in January, and will be finishing the campaign without the record buy because of the hamstring injury he suffered against Southampton.

The £21m man had impressed in flashes but has not hit the heights yet that he did in the MLS for Atlanta. Benitez suggested Newcastle missed his quick runs at Brighton, though, and he has been pleased with the impact he has had on Tyneside so far.

Benitez said: “We knew him quite well. The scout in America did a great job so we knew what he could do and it’s just we had a question mark early on about the MLS and the Premier League; can he replicate the same form; then we realise his position is more mobile than we knew.

“Maybe he cannot do this here or that here but maybe he can do the same movement from starting on the left side more. He is currently more on the left side but he is doing the same runs as before when he was starting from another position.

“I am quite happy with that. He’s a good professional, like I said before, you can see that. He’s a clever player. For me he’s giving confirmation he’s a good professional. On the pitch he’s keen to listen to you and after to try to do (what you tell him).”

The Newcastle manager, meanwhile, has been linked with another job on the continent in the last 48 hours. Paris St Germain. Thomas Tuchel, the PSG boss, is having his position examined after failing in the Champions League it has been claimed.

And given Benitez’s contract is due to expire at the end of June, he is starting to be linked with fresh jobs. The Spaniard’s preference is to stay in the Premier League.