(Reuters) - Newcastle United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey feared for his future at the beginning of the last campaign and says that a season in the Championship has helped toughen him up in preparation for a return to the Premier League.
The 25-year-old joined Newcastle in January 2016 and the club were relegated five months later, with Shelvey admitting that dropping down a level after five consecutive years in the top flight was an unpleasant experience.
“The last year has toughened me up. It isn’t a nice league to play in. It’s not nice to be relegated at any level. It’s horrible,” Shelvey told British media.
Shelvey missed just four league games last season as Newcastle finished champions by one point but his omission from the squad at the beginning of the season made him fear for his future.
“If you are not playing at a club in the Championship when you’ve played for England, you wonder if it’s going to go downhill from there,” Shelvey, who has six international caps, said.
“I didn’t start the first game in the Championship and I started to doubt my ability. It could have gone either way. But then I got the chance to play and I haven’t looked back.”
The former Liverpool and Swansea player believes the club earned promotion through sheer hard work and is hoping they can now prove themselves and retain top-flight status.
“It’s just good to be back. We deserved to go down and now we deserve to be back. We put ourselves in that situation, but we’re the ones who... ground out wins,” Shelvey said.
“Now we deserve a chance to show what we can do in the Premier League. We need to make sure we stay there.”
Newcastle host Tottenham Hotspur in the first match of the season on Aug. 13.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru