After Rafa Benitez, it is team captain Jamaal Lascelles who enjoys the most popularity among the Toon Army for his impressive form. But is the young defender ready to play for England?
The presence of England national team manager Gareth Southgate at St. James’ Park this past Wednesday evening did not go unnoticed by the media. This was Southgate’s second appearance at St. James’ Park and his presence raises questions regarding who he is scouting.
At the start of the season many fans and pundits thought Jonjo Shelvey would use this season to showcase his talent, however, it looks like Southgate has his eyes set on Jamaal Lascelles.
Despite missing four matches this season after suffering an ankle injury against Bournemouth in November, Lascelles has been in top-form and he provides the Magpies with stability and consistency at the back.
His ability to defend through strength, serve as a vocal leader on the pitch and his aerial athleticism to score headers have all been observed and praised by those on Tyneside.
Lascelles has earned the right to lead the Magpies as their captain because of his skills and football intelligence, and I think it is fair to say that the 24-year-old defender deserves a call-up from Gareth Southgate.
Lascelles for England
Although Newcastle United have been struggling since late October, Jamaal Lascelles has played well at an individual level and is the most reliable player that Rafa Benitez has. Lascelles plays an integral role for Newcastle United as the club’s captain and rising star, however, that would not be the case on the England national team.
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With an abundance of talent across England, the quality and intensity of the competition on the national team would greatly exceed what Lascelles is used to at Newcastle. To many around the league, Lascelles is an up-and-coming player with the potential to be an elite defender. It is for this reason that he should be playing for England next summer.
As we have seen with Newcastle all season, Lascelles is the voice and muscle of the squad. He would bring new energy to England and motivate others around him to give maximum effort on every play. Playing for your club with energy and passion is one thing, but for a national team to succeed its players must play with heart and motivation, which are two attributes Lascelles has.
From Captain to Student
What Lascelles can learn from the elite players around him is just as important as what Lascelles could contribute off the bench for England. With a supporting cast primarily comprised of Championship-level players at Newcastle, earning a spot on the national team would be a great learning experience for the young defender.
Lascelles would train with the best players from top-six clubs and apply his knowledge on the pitch for the Magpies.
Overall, Lascelles has played well this season and continues to earn the trust of Rafa Benitez. While he has earned the trust of Benitez, Lascelles seems to have captured the attention of Gareth Southgate as well. If his impressive form continues over the next few weeks, Lascelles might find himself playing alongside top defenders such as Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling and Kyle Walker.