Newcastle's Jamaal Lascelles launches strong defence of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Jonjo Shelvey
Captain Jamaal Lascelles leapt to the defence of Aleksandar Mitrovic after the striker fired Newcastle United back to the top of the Championship.
Mitrovic’s 44th-minute goal gave the club a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.
The close-range strike was his sixth of the season.
“He has took his goal well,” said Lascelles.
“Strikers have got to be poachers in the six-yard box, and that is exactly what he was.
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“Mitro has come in. He was excellent at Derby and excellent today.
“Looking at losing Dwight Gayle through injury, a few people probably panicked, but we’ve got the strikers who can come in and do the job if given the chance.”
The result saw Newcastle climb above Brighton and Hove Albion ahead of tomorrow night’s game against Norwich City.
But Wolves manager Paul Lambert felt Mitrovic should have been sent off before he put United ahead.
Already on a yellow card, Mitrovic went in high on goalkeeper Carl Ikeme.
Referee Craig Pawson opted against showing the 22-year-old another card.
And Lascelles said: “He was just going for the ball.
“A defender has shoved him in the back, and that made Mitrovic run into the goalkeeper.
“It’s the ref’s final decision. There was no malice. He was just going for the ball.”
Lascelles also defended midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, whose every touch was booed by home fans.
Shelvey served a five-game ban in December and January after being found to have used racially-aggravated language towards Wolves player Romain Saiss in the league meeting between the two sides in September.
The 24-year-old – who claimed he had been taunted about his alopecia in that game – had strongly denied the Football Association charge.
Lascelles felt Shelvey kept his discipline at Molineux, where Newcastle were backed by 4,200 fans.
“Jonjo is not that type of person,” said Lascelles.
“But it happened and he has come here. A few of us told him to keep his head, because they might try and do it again.
“I just said ‘play your football and you can embarrass them by being the best player on the pitch’, and that is exactly what he did.
“Credit to him, he is a smart lad. He kept a cool head.”
Lascelles felt it was a significant victory for United, who have now won 11 league games away from home.
“It was an excellent performance, and I’m pleased the way everyone approached it,” said Lascelles, who put in a commanding performance alongside Ciaran Clark on his return to the starting XI.
“They threw everything our way, mostly down Ciaran’s side. He was sweeping up and I was covering, but he won everything and down my side I tried to do the same.
“They’ve got some good players, and (Nouha) Dicko is sharp and plays off the shoulder, so it was a different test for us, but we adapted to their game plan.”
United could beat the record of 13 away wins set in the 1992-93 season, when Kevin Keegan was in charge.
“It is a target to look towards, but with this team, we approach every game to win and get three points,” said Lascelles. “We are going to aim much higher than that.
“It is a good record, but we’ve got to improve our home games as well.
“We’ve still got a lot of hard work to do, but we are in a good position and a few results fell our way.”
Lascelles had started the previous weekend’s win over Derby County on the bench.
Lascelles said: “I didn’t play in the Derby game, but Grant Hanley came in and did an excellent job.
“That is exactly what we need, players who can come in and do a good job.”