Rafa Benitez recounts an important conversation with Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles

Newcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles
Newcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles

Rafa Benitez is determined to keep Jamaal Lascelles’ feet planted to the ground.

Lascelles, Newcastle United’s 23-year-old captain, has scored the winning goal in their last two Premier League games.

Benitez spoke to Lascelles this week and told him to keep his focus.

“I did it with him, but I’ve done this with some players,” said United’s manager, whose fourth-placed side take on Brighton & Hove Albion in at the Amex Stadium tomorrow afternoon.

“When you are doing really well, I say to them it’s important to concentrate on their jobs.

“If they are doing well, what they have to do is keep doing the same things.

I have years of experience. It’s the most difficult thing. You are doing well and everyone is praising you and praising you, sometimes if you are young you lose your focus.

Rafa Benitez

“I have years of experience. It’s the most difficult thing.

“You are doing well and everyone is praising you and praising you, sometimes if you are young you lose your focus.

“It’s to remind them that this is the way to continue being praised.”

Asked if Lascelles could get distracted, Benitez added: “I had another conversation with him and another player (on Thursday).

“We were talking about commitment and hard work and all these things.

“He’s happy with this approach. It’s quite easy for me to tell him ‘you have to keep working hard’, because he was doing it anyway.

“We’re trying to improve other things in his game, but in terms of this – his mentality and character – he’s fine.”

Benitez feels Lascelles could go on to play for his country, but, for now, he feels he must stay focused on his club career.

“He’s someone that has the potential (to play for England), and he has to keep working the same way that he’s working and he will improve,” said Benitez, who left Lascelles out of his starting XI for the club’s season-opener.

“How much will he improve? I don’t know. But he has the potential and that’s quite positive.

“He’s a big lad and has a lot of attributes (needed) to be successful in the Premier League. But he’s still a young player.”