Jamaal Lascelles could easily kick up a fuss about not playing for Newcastle United this season, but he completely understands why Eddie Howe has rarely picked him.
The Newcastle skipper made just his second Premier League start of the season on Saturday, with Lascelles replacing Fabian Schar against Manchester City.
While it was a third consecutive defeat for the Magpies, Lascelles applied himself well against the champions. The 29-year-old produced a decent performance – especially against the Premier League’s top scorer Erling Haaland.
Newcastle have been brilliant at the back this season, and boast the league’s meanest defence. That has largely been without Lascelles, who has been limited to just five appearances.
He has been forced to watch on from the bench while Schar and Sven Botman thrive in the position that should be his. He has had to sit by and see Kieran Trippier lead the team out each week, wearing his captain’s armband. Lascelles could easily feel put out, but he remains professional and respects the manager’s decision.
Jamaal Lascelles understands why he hasn’t played much
After the defeat to Manchester City, Lascelles spoke to the Chronicle. He was asked about not playing much this season.
“No footballer wants to sit on the bench,” he said.
“But at the same time, I accept when a team is playing well and has got a brilliant defensive record that is how football works. It will never change my mood or my professionalism. It will just make me work harder and I will always support the team.
“Fabby had a little knock and didn’t play, I thought there were positives to take for me as an individual and us a team and a squad.”
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Lascelles deserves a lot of credit for having this attitude. As captain, he could very easily expect to start every week no matter what. But he accepts that the Magpies’ defenders have been playing so well that there is no reason for Eddie Howe to change things.
He has shown real leadership since Howe became manager, despite falling down the Toon pecking order. His professionalism must make Howe’s job easier, and now he might have the chance to enjoy a run in the side.
Lascelles played well against Manchester City, but it looks like Fabian Schar will be available for the Wolves game. He has been pictured back in training.
That means Howe has a decision to make. Does he stick by Lascelles or recall Schar at the first time of asking? Personally, Lascelles did nothing wrong against Man City and deserves another chance.
This could be a crucial period for the centre-back, as it has been claimed that he could leave Newcastle this summer. The Northern Echo have stated that the club will listen to offers for Lascelles, who is now fighting for his future at St James’ Park.