Cape Town - Goalkeeper Rob Elliot has issued a vote of confidence for Newcastle United's January signing Jonjo Shelvey, praising the talent and temperament of the midfielder who looked to have lost his way in his final months at former club Swansea City.
The mercurial 23-year-old signed earlier this month for a reported 12 million pounds and lost no time making an impression at his new club, pulling the strings to devastating effect the following weekend in their 2-1 win over West Ham United.
Sections of the British media have questioned Shelvey's mental strength, pointing to the periods of inconsistency that undermine his superb passing game.
Yet, for Elliot, who hailed Shelvey as former England captain Steven Gerrard's heir apparent, the midfielder's move to Newcastle could see him become a lynchpin for club and country for years to come.
"Jonjo can be anything he wants to be," the keeper told the club's website.
"Liverpool let him go too early in my opinion. He's the only player I've played with that could come close to Steven Gerrard."
"He's got everything you need. Basically, it's in Jonjo's hands - it's up to him. If he wants to go on and play 50, 100 times for England, then he can. I think he's got that mentality."