Rafa Benitez has dismissed the possibility of England midfielder Jonjo Shelvey leaving Newcastle United during the forthcoming January window.

The Spanish manager says the club would not be entertaining the idea of selling Shelvey next month despite rumours that Fulham would consider a swap deal for one of Benitez’s top targets in Tom Cairney. Benitez, who revealed that Shelvey is set to return to Newcastle’s starting line-up after injury problems at Watford this weekend, was emphatic in his denial during his pre-match press conference this afternoon.

No, no chance. Jonjo is an important player for us. Him and Ki Sung-yueng [absent at the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates with South Korea] can technically pass the ball well and keep it, they give confidence to the rest of the team. I hope Jonjo will be as important to us for the rest of the season as he was last year.

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri was reportedly interested in taking Shelvey to Craven Cottage to aid the Whites’ fight against relegation but know looks set to have to seek an alternative target.