When it comes to hot prospects in the Premier League, Jamaal Lascelles is one of the names that often finds its way to the top of the list. Although he’s just 24-years-old, Lascelles is the head honcho on the pitch at Newcastle and has shown that he’s got the mettle to cut it at the top level.
In this piece, we’ve picked out five reasons why Lascelles deserves a shot in the England set-up.
Are the Other Options Really Any Better?
Gareth Southgate recently praised Harry Maguire and said that, despite an anxious start, he “grew in confidence” during the recent game against Brazil. Although his place in the backline is far from secure, Southgate did say he was a “real plus” following the clean sheet performance. However, as solid as Maguire may be, is he really that much better than Lascelles that Southgate hasn’t even given him a sniff?
When you compare stats, Maguire does have the upper hand, but that’s only because he’s had more experience. In the Premier League, he does have a 75% tackle success rate which is impressive. However, when you look at things such as clearances, aerial battles won/lost and clean sheets, the two players have similar numbers. In this respect, you could say that this justifies that Southgate’s decision to go with Maguire is fair. But, by the same token, it’s also possible to say that if they’re so evenly matched, why not give Lascelles a try?
He’s a Defensive Nightmare
Yes, he’s a defender, but Lascelles knows how to outsmart his opposite numbers. OK, so he’s not banging them in like Harry Kane, but he has scored four times in the Premier League. In fact, his two goals so far this season have proved pivotal. Indeed, after netting the winners against Swansea and Stoke, Lascelles showed that he’s not just a force at the back for Newcastle.
Although England aren’t desperate for goal scorers, another level of firepower, especially during set pieces, is never a bad thing. Indeed, when you look at an England regular like John Stones, Lascelles has already shown he’s a better hot shot. You don’t believe us? Well, when you look at the stats, Stones has just one Premier League goal in 115 appearances. In contrast, Lascelles has four in 29 games.
When the Going Gets Tough Lascelles Gets Going
When Lascelles entered the fray at Newcastle, he really did enter the fray. With the team facing relegation, Lascelles knew that things needed to change and he wasn’t shy about saying it. Confrontations with Daryl Janmaat signalled his willingness to fight for the team and that was justly rewarded when the former captain left.
As well as quite literally scrapping for respect, Lascelles introduced a new camaraderie to the team that had been lacking. Regular team meals, socialising away from the game and a general injection of passion helped turn Newcastle’s fortunes around. This desire to win not only helped the Magpies through a tough time, but showed that Lascelles has a strong will that can’t be taught. When it comes to some of the England team’s finest, despite their best intentions, this sort of passion has been lacking. With this in mind, Lascelles could be the injection of emotion the team needs.
He’s a Born Leader
Despite being just 24-years-old, Lascelles seems to have a natural affinity for leading those around him. Sure, at a club where he sees players day in and day out, it’s a little easier to win their respect. Indeed, when he steps into the England dressing room, he’ll be surrounded by bigger names with bigger résumés. However, if he can put that to one side and stick to his natural instincts, Lascelles can have a powerful impact on the team.
According to former Newcastle United captain Alan Shearer, Lascelles has all the necessary attributes to be a strong leader. During an in-depth interview with the young player for the BBC, Shearer said that Lascelles is “down to earth, honest and very open”. On top of this, he faced up to his training ground tussle with Mo Diame like a man and always wears his heart on his sleeve. This ability to say what he thinks and tackle tough situations is something that’s helped him thrive as Newcastle captain and could, potentially, help him in the England team.
The Stats are On His Side
The final reason Lascelles has a strong case for being in the England set-up is his stats. Sure, we can talk about heart, passion and the ability to lead a team, but in a game of inches the numbers matter. As we’ve said, the Newcastle man has scored twice this season. However, when you look back to 2014, you’ll notice he’s scored 10 goals in a relatively short career. OK, so that’s not going to make him a top pick when you review the latest Premier League first goal scorer odds, but it is solid for a defender.
As it stands, the centre-back has a tackle success rate of 52% in the Premier League. On top of this, he’s made 104 recoveries, intercepted the ball 38 times and helped Newcastle keep 6 clean sheets in just 29 Premier League appearances. Another nice string to Lascelles’ bow is his ability in the air. 83 headed clearances could come in very handy for England against any longball merchants at the 2018 World Cup.
Whether you agree Lascelles is England material or not, there’s no denying the facts. Even at the age of 24, he’s already proved he’s a top talent and, even if that doesn’t make him an international prospect now, he surely deserves a shot in the future.
Daniel Smyth is a sports and betting writer with almost a decade’s worth of experience covering everything from poker and casino games to football, boxing and MMA.