Jamaal Lascelles spells out what Newcastle MUST do in the summer

Jamaal Lascelles says Newcastle United MUST keep Rafa Benitez at St James's Park.

Benitez will discuss his future with the club’s hierarchy at the end of the season, when he will have a year left on his contract.

Newcastle’s manager will look for a firm commitment on transfer funds from owner Mike Ashley, who put the Premier League club up for sale late last year.

Lascelles, appointed captain by Benitez in 2016, believes that Benitez has brought “stability” to 13th-placed United, which was in turmoil when he took over the season before last.

“It does feel like a stable club at the minute,” said Lascelles, speaking ahead of Saturday’s home game against Huddersfield Town.

“We’ve got a manager who trusts us, and he wants to be here, the fans are with him, so that’s really important for the players.

“Now that the stuff with the owner and the takeover has died down, that helps.

Jamaal Lascelles

“Whether it was going to happen or it wasn’t going to happen, it is less to think about as a player.

“We now know we are in a stable environment at a stable club.

“You might not really think about it much, but it (the takeover talk) probably did have an effect on some individuals.

“Of course, as a player you don’t want to be in a team where there is loads of paper talk about stuff not related to us.

Rafa Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles

“You don’t want anything negative coming out. Everything is running smooth now, everything is positive, and I think it’s just down to us to make sure we keep the fans happy.

“I think, for a while now, that the best thing that this club has done is brought the manager in.

“Since he’s been here, things have been on the up. He’s brought the club together and the city together.

“I think it’s important that the club keeps him happy and holds on to him for as long as possible.

Jamaal Lascelles

“He’s an excellent manager. He’s has won trophies, he has worked in many different leagues and he knows what it takes to be successful.

“It’s only been positive since he arrived.”

Lascelles and Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey missed out on England call-ups this month.

Shelvey hasn’t represented his country since joining the club in January 2016.

Lascelles believes the 26-year-old could “comfortably” play for England.

“I train with Jonjo every single day, and, technically, he’s so talented,” said Lascelles.

Rafa Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles

“I’m not dissing anyone who’s in the England team, they’re there for a reason and they are very good players, but Jonjo can quite comfortably compete at that level.

“Technically, he’s right up there with the best Premier League midfielders.

“We (England) have got hard-working midfielders, disciplined midfielders, but Jonjo offers something a little bit different.”