Jonjo Shelvey hopes his new outlook can earn a second England cap

He is back in the squad now and the opponents, again, are San Marino, away this time on Saturday

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The Independent Football

Twenty-four minutes is not even enough to make it into the top 20 for shortest England careers, a list still topped by Crystal Palace’s Martin Kelly (two minutes 39 seconds against Norway when a Liverpool player in 2012). But three years on from replacing Michael Carrick against San Marino at Wembley, Jonjo Shelvey might have hoped his international career would have amounted to more.

He is back in the squad now and the opponents, again, are San Marino, away this time on Saturday, and then the rather trickier encounter of Switzerland at Wembley in a week's time. “It’s in my living room on the wall,” he said of his solitary England cap. “I gave my two shirts to my Gran and my nan.”

Long before Swansea’s win over Manchester United on Sunday, the 23-year-old, a fine reader of the game, and possessing of a far more accomplished technique than he is often credited for, has been approaching the finest form of his career. But he knows adding another cap to his  collection will not be easy.

“It’d mean the world to me,” Shelvey admitted. “It’s a matter of getting a chance to play and I feel I deserve a fair crack of the whip.”

 

That it has been so long since his rather uneventful debut has been tough to take. “It’s been a bit of a downer. Obviously, you want to play for your country. That’s every boy’s dream, but it’s just unfortunate it’s not happened. I’m still only 23 so I’ve got a lot of time in front of me in terms of international football.

“But the only way I’m going to be able to do that is performing out on the pitch for Swansea on a Saturday. I have always had faith in my ability. I know I’m as good as the  people in there and it’s down to me to prove it.”

That he is back in the England squad – and playing well at the heart of one of the Premier League’s most attractive sides has been a factor – is testament to his determination to prove himself.

“I could have just stayed at Liverpool, been on the bench and tried to fight for a place there,” Shelvey said. “But I wanted to come away and play regular football. I’m happy I found a club in Swansea who knock the ball around lovely, have a great set-up, fan base and a great manager that has given me the chance to go and play every week.”

Going to Liverpool as an 18-year-old from Charlton in 2010 took him a long way from his east London roots. Heading to Wales in 2013 was another big step. “I think I’ve grown up a lot,” he said. “I’ve had to... I’m married with a child now. It has made a difference. I’ve more stability in my life, more security at home and a bit more comfortable. Hopefully, I can kick on and get on with my career now.”

Shelvey, married his fiancée Daisy Evans in the summer, and that his performances have immediately improved is no coincidence.

“It was after my stag do where I thought, ‘It is time to really knuckle down’. I went to Marbella back in May. There were 50 of us. To be fair, it wasn’t too mental. My dad was there and he’s hard on me in terms of my drinking. He always keeps an eye on me. I’m lucky enough to have a dad like that. He’s always protecting me.

“But I got all my stag do out of the way and then I worked day in, day out with a personal trainer back home in Essex. He really put me through my paces. He worked me hard and I wanted to kill him sometimes, But he was spot on. Every time I go back home I get a little session in with him on a Sunday or a Monday. It’s just a matter of growing up and maturing as a player and person.”

His wife and an 18-month-old daughter are making the journey to San Marino – and will be hoping for a little more than 24 minutes.

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