Jamaal Lascelles had been injured in preseason, and new signing Florian Lejeune had been playing extremely well at center-back and was in the starting lineup for our first game against Tottenham at home last month.
But then Lejeune was injured in the first half of that game along with Paul Dummett, and in came Jamaal Lascelles and Chancel Mbemba and both have been regulars in the starting eleven ever since.
Chancel missed the win at Swansea through injury but was restored at left-back for the Stoke game on Saturday and he again looked the player we thought we had signed from Anderlecht two years ago.
Rafa Benitez gives Jamaal Lascelles instructions on Saturday
But it’s been Jamaal Lascelles who has been getting the headline for his two winning goals in the last two games plus he is showing real leadership both on and off the field.
Rafa Benitez has praised his young captain and he had this to say as reported in the Shields Gazette today:
“He’s taken the responsibility to work hard on the pitch and also be a leader by example,”
“That’s what you are expecting from every player, but especially the captain.”
“When I was thinking who can be captain, it was not very difficult.”
“Jamaal was quite good last year.”
“It’s another division, but I think he did well and I had confidence that he could do well again.”
When Rafa came to Newcastle on that magical day in March last year he quickly picked out Jamaal as a future star and soon Lascelles was playing in the first team and playing well too.
He was made captain last season and if he keeps improving like he has been under Rafa for 18 months, he will be captain and a Newcastle star for many years to come.
That would be something!