Newcastle legend and former captain Alan Shearer has paid tribute to the club's current armband wearer Jamaal Lascelles, saying he is not surprised the defender has been handed that responsibility.
Lascelles has earned plenty of praise for his part in Newcastle's promising start to life back in the Premier League, with Rafael Benitez' side eleventh in the league.
In a piece for Newcastle fanzine The Mag, the Premier League's record goalscorer revealed he is wasn't surprised by Lascelles' appointment as Newcastle captain after meeting him for an interview for the BBC's Premier League Show, saying:
“I had not met Jamaal Lascelles before I interviewed him for this week’s Premier League Show but now I can see why Rafael Benitez made him Newcastle’s captain.
“It is a job that I have been lucky enough to have done myself, so I understand the pressure and the responsibility that comes with the armband. Jamaal clearly does too. He sees being Newcastle skipper as an honour, just like I did, and he definitely has the kind of character you need to be the leader at my old club."
Shearer believes that one of the reasons Lascelles suits the role of captain is his willingness to speak his mind, revealing: “Saying what he thinks is part of the job – one of the most important things about being Newcastle captain is your relationship with the supporters. You have to understand them, and what they want see.
“They love anyone who works hard, gives their all and fights for everything, and I think that’s why they have taken to Jamaal so much – because they appreciate he does all of that."
Benitez' impact at the club has been heralded by many, and Shearer revealed that Lascelles is no different, adding: "He was quick to acknowledge the influence of Rafael Benitez...In terms of improving him as a defender, it was fascinating to hear about the level of detail Benitez puts into in training, going beyond the work on tactics and team shape that he is renowned for.
“He has taught Jamaal a lot about the art of man-management too, since making him his skipper at the start of last season."
Perhaps inevitably given his recent form, the prospect of an England call up arose during the discussion, but Shearer doesn't believe the defender will get carried away but the prospect: "He played in the same England Under-20 side as Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Ross Barkley and there has been talk of him following them into the full team.
“But he is not the type to get carried away by the thought he could make the England squad for next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.
"One of the things he talked about a lot throughout the interview was consistency and the importance of keeping his concentration and, at the moment, he is just focused on continuing to do well for Newcastle.
“If he does that, then an international call-up could happen, and one thing is for sure – he will be giving it a good go.”