Newcastle's Jamaal Lascelles can be an important player for England says club team-mate Federico Fernandez
Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles is more than capable of playing for England but needs help from his club team-mates to get there.
That is the view of Lascelles’ defensive partner Federico Fernandez, who has been impressed by his new skipper after arriving at St James’s Park in the summer.
Fernandez, 29, played alongside Alfie Mawson at Swansea before moving to Tyneside, and saw his former colleague earn a first England call-up back in March.
Lascelles, 24, is the same age as Mawson but is yet to be selected for the national side.
Even so, Fernandez believes the Newcastle captain has all the qualities to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s squad, and still has time to do it.
"Jamaal is young, he's physical, and last season especially he had a great campaign all year,” said Fernandez.
"I think England's style has now changed a little, the squad is younger than before - and when I was at Swansea my former team-mate Alfie Mawson got a couple of chances with England.
"So I don't see why one day Jamaal won't get called-up. Maybe they will look at him in some friendly games so he can show his quality for his country.”
Fernandez, who has been capped 32 times by Argentina - most of which came when he was playing for Napoli - knows Lascelles needs to be playing at the highest level to be considered by Southgate.
In Mawson’s case, the defender was relegated from the Premier League with Swansea before signing for newly-promoted Fulham in the summer - where he has been overlooked by England ever since.
Brighton’s Lewis Dunk was selected ahead of Lascelles for the latest UEFA Nations League games, following the former’s impressive performances for the Seagulls - Newcastle’s opponents this weekend.
Dunk’s inclusion suggests there is still a potential pathway for Lascelles into international football. However, the defender will know he’s far less likely to catch Southgate’s attention while Newcastle are languishing in the bottom three.
Fernandez, too, is well aware that Lascelles needs help from his team-mates to gain the recognition he deserves.
"He (Lascelles) needs to keep working. It's not always dependent on just him, either. The team needs to do well to help him to achieve this,” said Fernandez.
"I hope we can improve, that we can stay better, and one day he can develop. He is a very good defender - physical, strong and vocal - and he is a good captain too.
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"The manager (Rafa Benitez) likes him, the players like him, and he will be important for us this season and beyond. Maybe he can be important for England too."
The visit of Brighton this weekend represents a real opportunity for Benitez’s side to register their first win of the campaign.
Even so, Fernandez is expecting a difficult game against the Seagulls, who are managed by former Newcastle boss Chris Hughton.
"It's a massive game. We know they are a good team, very organised and disciplined,” said Fernandez.
"We have been analysing them, and they have pace up front, particularly with their wingers, and have good strikers.
"For us, we need to be patient with the ball, try to find the space, don't concede many free-kicks or corners because they are quite strong in the air.
"It's a game that I hope we can take the three points from because we need them - and we are ready to now after a tough start."
Over a week has passed since Newcastle let a two-goal lead slip at Manchester United, the last game before the latest international break.
However, Fernandez insists the message has been the same from Benitez, and the defender has full confidence in his manager.
"The manager is still keeping the same message - that we need to stay calm. Until the 70-minute mark, we had all the control at Old Trafford,” said the defender.
"But this is football. Maybe before the game we didn't expect to be 2-0 up in the first half, but we did that.
"We just have to carry on, keep working and try to be focused in our performances. We obviously need to improve what we are doing wrong as a team, and try to correct that in the next one.
"The manager knows what he is doing, he knows what to show us on the training ground and tell us in the dressing room - and we know the wins will come."