Eddie Howe faced the media this morning ahead of Sunday’s clash at St James’ Park with Wolves and took the time to acknowledge the professionalism of his club captain, Jamaal Lascelles.

The 29-year-old defender was thrust back into the starting line-up last week against the Premier League champions after Howe followed concussion protocols and kept Fabian Schar out of the squad.

Despite that being Lascelles’ first Premier League outing since his seven minute cameo against Aston Villa in October, and only his second full game since Liverpool in August, the former Nottingham Forest man looked like he’d never been away.

Howe wasn’t at all surprised with his performance, praising his attitude in training saying (via The Chronicle): “[He is] Very important. Jamaal has trained really well at a really high level. You don’t come into that type of game and play well unless you’re absolutely focused on your training day to day. He’s led by example on the training ground.

I had no doubt he’d come in and do well, because of what I’ve seen. And he performed to a really high level.”

Lascelles has been linked with a move away for a while

Lascelles still faces an uncertain future with the Magpies as the general feeling is that he’s below the level we need our players to be at to progress. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be shown the door in the summer as he could still be kept as backup, and Howe’s comments do suggest there’s still more that he thinks he can get from his captain.

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Photo by Stu Forster – NUFC/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Even last summer, it was believed that Lascelles’ time was up at St James’ Park as he was linked with a return to Forest after his form dropped off a cliff under Howe and fans began to turn on him, but Howe wasn’t about to throw his captain under the bus and despite it being made clear at the start of the season that he’d not be first-choice, he was kept on as club captain with Kieran Trippier his deputy.

It does seem that the man who was handed the captaincy by Rafa Benitez has completely bought into what Eddie Howe is trying to do at Newcastle, and despite falling down the pecking order, doesn’t seem to be making a fuss and is always ready when called upon.

Whatever happens, he’s earned our respect

That speaks volumes about his character and whether he sticks around at Newcastle or is moved on as part of the summer shakeup, he will never have to buy a pint in the Bigg Market. His leadership brought us back out of the Championship at the first time of asking under Benitez and his performances earned him shouts from the Toon Army that he should be called up for England.

He’s had a rollercoaster eight years on Tyneside and it looks like the track isn’t finished; there could still be more ups and downs yet.

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