I'm ready to tackle my hero
JONJO Shelvey is relishing the prospect of going head to head with his midfield idol — and ex-next door neighbour — when Swansea City host Liverpool tonight.
Shelvey should start for Swansea when a Liverpool side led by Steven Gerrard visit the Liberty Stadium.
The match comes little more than two months since Shelvey swapped Merseyside for South Wales.
While at Anfield, he shared a dressing room with boyhood hero Gerrard.
Now he cannot wait to test himself against the Liverpool legend when Swansea resume Premier League action after a 15-day international break.
"With Stevie, you only have to look at him and see what he does on the pitch to learn from him," said Shelvey.
"You see what he does on the training pitch, what he's done for Liverpool and England. It's spectacular.
"I've always tried to emulate him as a player — he's always been my favourite player.
''But there comes a time when you can't copy him, you have got to be your own player.
"I'm not going out there saying 'I'm going to be like Steven Gerrard'.
''I'll play my own game and if it is like him, then brilliant, because if I could have half the career he's had, I'll be happy."
Shelvey joined Swansea in a £5 million deal as he searches for regular football having played a bit-part role with Liverpool.
He has played all three Premier League games so far this season, and featured twice in Europe, impressing with some pinpoint long- range passing.
"I live near Mumbles, I've got a lovely house," said Shelvey.
"It's a different way of living down here and I'm enjoying every minute of it.
Living by the sea is beautiful."
Although the Londoner has crossed the Severn Bridge to Wales, he still remains very much in England's sights.
A regular for his country's under-21 side, Shelvey made his full debut against San Marino last year.
And Roy Hodgson mentioned he was close to making the senior squad for recent matches with Moldova and Ukraine.
"It's nice, but in a sense you're disappointed," said Shelvey.
"You want to be selected because it's always an honour to play for your country.
"Even when we were away with the 21s, Roy was always ringing me, talking to me and saying it won't be long until you're in there.
"He said he'd rather I got 90 minutes for the 21s than go away with the seniors where I might not play.
"I'd rather get a full game with the 21s than sit on the bench."
And another of Shelvey's former team-mates, Jamie Carragher, believes playing at Swansea will help the midfielder's international prospects.
Carragher stated last week that England should play like Michael Laudrup's side.
"Everyone has seen what he (Carragher) has done for Liverpool, he's been absolutely outstanding," added Shelvey.
"For him to say that speaks volumes for this club and I do agree with him.
"The way England play is a bit traditional, but that's not anyone's fault, that's just the way they've played for a number of years.
"We need to show more bravery, to get out and pass the ball. That's something they encourage down here."