Debutant Martin Dubravka hogged the headlines, Jonjo Shelvey was the broadcaster’s man of the match and Matt Ritchie got the goal, but Jamaal Lascelles was again central as Newcastle secured a huge win over Manchester United on Sunday.
Meanwhile, England manager Gareth Southgate was some 100 miles south, watching Huddersfield Town – inspired by Australia and Benin internationals – see off Bournemouth.
Lascelles is still waiting on a first senior international cap, surely partly due to injury late last year, but Southgate can ignore him no longer.
Against the Red Devils at St James’ Park, Lascelles towered over England regulars Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
The Newcastle captain is the full package, playing out from the back with confidence, winning everything in the air and catching nippy forwards with a deceptive turn of pace. He showed the lot at the weekend.
Jones and Smalling, by comparison, were clumsy, weak and slow. They could not contain Dwight Gayle, while Lascelles handled Romelu Lukaku.
When fans call for international honours – Lascelles is the subject of a chant of this fashion – the response often suggests that the player in question needs to prove his class consistently over a period. The 24-year-old has done exactly that this season.
Lascelles is a true leader – and England have few – but Newcastle’s vastly contrasting results with and without their skipper are down to more than just his motivational skills. His talent is there for all to see.
The centre-back position is one that has seen plenty of turnover under Southgate, although he will now be hoping to start to finalise a 23-man group for the summer’s World Cup.
The coming international break, in March, could therefore represent Lascelles’ last hope of forcing his way into the finals squad. He should at least be given a chance by a manager who claims to pick players on form, not reputation.
If the rest of his career so far is anything to go by, Lascelles will not pass up the opportunity.