Speaking too soon: Jamaal Lascelles comments may come back to bite some Newcastle fans – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets… 

Jamaal Lascelles has appeared in every league game so far, and an injury which rules him out until early 2020 could have more of an impact on the team than fans realise.

Under Steve Bruce the Magpies have mostly looked solid at the back, only conceding two or more goals on four occasions in the league, and fans have been quick to praise the centre-backs at the club.

Fabian Schar, Federico Fernandez and Florian Lejeune are all admired amongst the fanbase, perhaps more so than the captain Lascelles, whose injury hasn’t caused much concern amongst the supporters.

There should be worry, though, as Lascelles’ solid performances have clearly been overlooked. Possibly this is because he is less adventurous on the ball in comparison to Schar, or hasn’t made as many tackles per game compared to his defensive teammates.

However, much of that is because the 26-year-old plays the central role in the centre-back trio, with much of his influence coming through his ability to lead and organise the team.

It will be interesting to see how the Magpies cope without that, and whether others will be able to step up in his place.

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He has shown that style frequently this season. As per WhoScored, he has made 4.9 clearances and 0.9 blocks per game, a combined total that is better than any other Newcastle defender, and amongst the highest of any defender outside the ‘top six’ clubs.

Lascelles’ efforts this term therefore warrant praise, and his injury issue shouldn’t be palmed off as inconsequential despite however good the alternatives may be.

A reason for fan confidence could be because of the organisation Bruce has brought to the backline, with the likes of Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett slotting in with ease in recent games suggesting the sum is greater than its parts.

Nevertheless, it hasn’t had to cope without the figure of Lascelles yet, and didn’t for much of Rafa Benitez’s reign either, so his absence should provide a stern test of how far Newcastle have come under their new boss.

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