Jamaal Lascelles says Newcastle United team-mate Florian Lejeune has got everything it takes to be a success in the Premier League.
Lejeune returned to Rafa Benitez’s starting XI against Manchester United.
And the 26-year-old defender – who replaced Ciaran Clark in the team – helped Newcastle keep a clean sheet in a memorable, and hugely-important, 1-0 win over Jose Mourinho’s side.
The club is 13th in the Premier League table ahead of tomorrow’s game against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Lejeune, signed from Eibar last summer, had been hit by ankle and foot injuries in the first half of the season.
Lascelles thought his defensive partner was “excellent” against Man United.
He’s a good defender. He offers a lot. He’s good on the ball, and, defensively, he was excellent.Jamaal Lascelles
“He’s a good defender,” said Newcastle’s captain, who is reportedly being tracked by Chelsea.
“He offers a lot. He’s good on the ball, and, defensively, he was excellent.
“I think me and him played well together, and everyone was at it against them.
“It’s important that we keep it there. We have set our standard, and we need to maintain it.”
The Man United game also saw goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, signed on loan from Sparta Prague last month, make his debut.
Dubravka, 29, was superb between the posts.
“The new keeper was brilliant, and made some great saves,” said Lascelles.
“Normally, new players can be a little bit shy or they don’t come out of their shell, but in training he has come in, he wants to play and has been bossing people about.
“That’s really good, because he is the voice at the back, and it’s important that he speaks to his defenders.
“Fair play to him. He made some great saves and kept us a clean sheet.”
The victory was followed by a two-week gap in the fixture list for Newcastle, who were knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea late last month.
Lascelles was frustrated at the enforced break.
“We didn’t really need a rest, but it won’t do us any harm,” said the 24-year-old.
“To be honest, though, I’d have liked to have another game around the corner, because the confidence is flying.”
Newcastle are just two points above the Premier League’s relegation zone, though a win at the Vitality Stadium would take them level with 10th-placed Bournemouth.
Benitez believes 40 points will be needed to guaranteed survival this season, and Lascelles is impatient to get more points on the board.
“Most people would never have thought we would beat Man United,” said the centre-half.
“But we beat them, we’re on 28 points now and we’re in a better position.
“The next two games are massive for us against Bournemouth and Liverpool (on March 3).
“We need to be getting a lot of points from those games.”