I've been made a scapegoat, says Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey

Midfielder was blamed for 3-1 defeat at Stoke City on Boxing Day

Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey suggested yesterday that he was made the scapegoat for his team's poor performance in the 3-1 defeat at Stoke City on Boxing Day – since when he has been left out on the periphery of the first-team.

The 20-year-old midfielder made a promising start to the season under Brendan Rodgers, culminating in his first senior England appearance in October's World Cup qualifier against San Marino. However, after 14 league appearances until Christmas, Shelvey has not featured in the Premier League since the loss at Stoke.

He said: "I played against Stoke and obviously I didn't have too great a game. I had a few personal issues that were going on in my life. I didn't think I was the only one that had a bad game that day but I was the one that suffered if you know what I mean."

Shelvey, speaking ahead of England Under-21s' friendly against Sweden in Walsall on Tuesday night, has started one game since – the FA Cup third-round tie at Mansfield – though he came off the bench for the fourth-round defeat at Oldham. "You just have to take it on the chin and work hard in training and try to get myself back in the team which I'm trying to do," he added.

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