Jamaal Lascelles returned to the Newcastle starting line-up last week, but the captain’s latest performances haven’t impressed some fans.
The centre-back was forced to leave the field with a shoulder injury against Watford in November, putting him out of action for a month.
It was worrying news at first, but his absence from the team ironically coincided with a turn in fortune for Newcastle.
Despite some brilliant performances from the Englishman, Newcastle had found themselves without a win in their opening 10 games.
Without him, Newcastle suddenly won three in a row, his replacement Fabian Schar becoming a key player in the side.
However the Newcastle captain was brought back into the team as part of a back three against Everton and Wolves.
The defender made key mistakes in both games and some Newcastle fans have been left unconvinced.
Fans react to Lascelles’s performance vs Wolves
I like lascelles but this season, he seems to have gone off the boil a bit. I thought he’d have upped his game even more with 2 new cbs at the club. We could really do with a captain’s performance soon and someone to take charge of the game #nufc
— Adrian Langley (@adi_bizzle) 9 December 2018
Jamaal Lascelles 4th choice at present #NUFC
— Chris Cox (@csc_2978) 9 December 2018
Lascelles has had the worst game of his career today. Dreadful. #NUFC
— FIN NUFC⚽️ (@nickfinley74) 9 December 2018
Lascelles very poor yesterday! That shows me how well @fabianschaer and @pajarofernandez are playing!! We missed them! Lascelles not first choice anymore!! Ki or @pajarofernandez should be made captain! #nufc were unlucky but our bench is not strong enough!!
— Tom Walkley (@tomwalkley) 10 December 2018
Why does Lascelles look like a bombscare. Doesnt look confident at all this season and the position he is playing today is so not right for him as he has zero pace and is getting caught out
— Steven (@StevieBee86) 9 December 2018
I think we’ve come to the conclusion that Lascelles CANNOT and MUST NOT play on the right of a back 3.
Or even in a back 3 at all.
It completely throws him for some reason.
Nowhere near mobile enough, nor does he have the ball skills to bring it out from the back.#NUFC
— The NUFC Optimist (@Optimistoon) 9 December 2018
Lascelles needs time
After two games, criticising Lascelles so quickly seems somewhat fickle.
The Newcastle captain has not only went a month without match fitness, but he has also been thrown into a formation he is not used to.
Although his poor reactions gave away a goal against Everton last week, he helped Newcastle hold on for a brilliant point.
He had a much worse game against Wolves, but there was no such criticism for Schar and Federico Fernandez in their similarly poor performances against West Ham.
A minority of Newcastle fans seem to have a short memory when the results don’t go their way. In the minutes Lascelles played before his comeback, Newcastle only conceded 11 goals in 10 games. In the four matches he’s missed this season, the team has conceded seven goals.
Lascelles is still one of Newcastle’s best defenders, and a couple of poor performances doesn’t change that.
Once Benitez finds a system where his centre-backs thrive, Lascelles will likely prove his doubters wrong.