JONJO SHELVEY is set to become the next senior player to sign a new contract with Newcastle United.

Shelvey, who made a goalscoring return to first-team action in Saturday’s 3-2 win at West Ham, is one of a number of players currently in discussions with Newcastle officials over a new deal.

While the ongoing talks with Sean and Matty Longstaff have hogged the headlines, the Magpies hierarchy are hoping to push through a series of new agreements, with a large number of senior players due to become free agents in the next 20 months.

Karl Darlow, Rob Elliot, Federico Fernandez, Javier Manquillo and Ki Sung-yueng are due to come to the end of their current deal next summer, while Shelvey, Ciaran Clark, Fabian Schar, Isaac Hayden and Matt Ritchie are among a batch of senior players whose contracts are set to expire in the summer of 2021.

Newcastle do not want to allow those players to enter the final year of their existing deals without a new arrangement in place, and are in the process of trying to negotiate long-term settlements.

Shelvey’s future has been the subject of considerable speculation in the last couple of years, with the 27-year-old having dropped in and out of favour under both Rafael Benitez and Steve Bruce.

While Bruce selected him in his starting line-up for the opening two games of the season against Arsenal and Norwich City, he left him out of the side for six of Newcastle’s eight subsequent league games prior to last weekend, with a niggling calf injury restricting his ability to perform at his best.

His recall at West Ham’s London Stadium proved an inspired move, with Shelvey scoring his side’s third goal from a direct free-kick and producing an impressive all-round display, and Bruce does not want to lose him from his squad.

Shelvey is aware of outside interest in his services, with West Ham United having inquired about his availability on a number of occasions in the last couple of years. The Hammers made a number of approaches while Benitez was manager, but their interest was shelved before it hardened into a formal bid.

Crystal Palace have also been linked with a possible move, but Shelvey is settled in the North-East and would like to extend his stay with the Magpies.

Speaking in a rare interview earlier this season, the former England international said: “I want to sign a new contract. I’ve never once come out and said that I wanted to leave the club. I don’t want to leave the club. I’m happy here and I’m settled here.

“Obviously, the only way I’m going to get a new deal is if I’m playing on the pitch and contributing to the team, and showing the fans, obviously, what I can do.”

Financially, it makes sense for Newcastle to tie Shelvey to a long-term deal as his value would decrease markedly if he was to enter the final 12 months of his contract. The same applies to the likes of Schar, Hayden and Ritchie, hence the desire to progress with talks in the next couple of months.

For all that he can sometimes be inconsistent, there are also footballing reasons to hold on to Shelvey, with his display at the weekend highlighting the creative strengths that set him apart from the rest of Newcastle’s current midfielders.

With Sean Longstaff suspended, Bruce earmarked Shelvey for a starting spot against the Hammers at the start of last week, with his upbringing in and around London helping persuade his current manager that it was the right call.

“I just thought Jonjo, if we needed a pass, could give a pass,” said Bruce. “With set-pieces, he’s made one and scored one.

“Always, in the back of my mind, I knew he was a West Ham fan, so this is a stage he wants to play on. He was very good, he’s got to maintain it. I got the decision right.”

Newcastle’s scouting team have been watching a number of different midfielders ahead of the January transfer window, with a senior delegation having travelled to Russia recently to watch Spartak Moscow’s Czech Republic international Alex Kral play in his club’s derby game with Lokomotiv.

The Magpies are also known to have had representatives at Metz this season, watching Senegalese striker Habibou Diallo. The 24-year-old has scored seven goals in 11 Ligue 1 appearances despite his current employers’ struggles close to the foot of the table.