According to the Athletic, Jamaal Lascelles is the Newcastle centre-back Steve Bruce ‘rates most highly’.
With us spoilt for choice in central defence – having Lascelles, Fernandez, Schar, Lejeune, Clark and Dummett on our books – some fans have called for the skipper to be dropped on occasions, but it seems he’s the last player Bruce plans to leave out his NUFC side.
Question: “Is it possible that the senior players who have expressed a preference to play 3 at the back is driven by certain vocal players and their self interest to play each week. i.e. Central Defenders currently have a 50% chance of getting a game each week, but if NUFC switched to a “4” then the CB’s would only have a 33% chance. It’s not inconceivable that Jamal Lascelles would be dropped – for example.”
Answer: “I won’t dismiss that possibility out of hand but it isn’t something I personally have heard. It’s more about what Bruce has distinguished from watching the players during games and matches.
“It’s interesting you say Lascelles would be dropped because I know he receives a fair amount of criticism from some quarters but he is actually the central defender Bruce rates most highly.”
Lascelles may not be easy on the eye, with him not possessing the same ball playing ability as Schar or Lejeune, but his leadership and physical presence is easily overlooked.
He communicates more than any other NUFC centre-back and his dominance in the air is superior to the other five.
Just look at last week’s win over Oxford. While Schar and Lejeune showed some eye-catching moments on the ball, he was the man in between them that was batting away every ball into the box and putting his head on the line.
I don’t necessarily believe he’s our best centre-back, but there’s an argument to say he’s our most important..