Jamaal Lascelles has told of his pride at Newcastle United – after passing Rafa Benitez’s captaincy “test”.
Benitez has been assessing Lascelles as a potential skipper in pre-season.
The 22-year-old – who emerged as a dressing-room leader late last season as the club fought to stay in the Premier League – passed every test that the club’s manager set him.
And Lascelles – who succeeds the departed Fabricio Coloccini as captain at St James’s Park – will lead Newcastle out against Fulham at Craven Cottage tonight.
Asked about the honour, the defender said: “It’s a very proud moment.
“I’ve been getting little hints and stuff in pre-season.
I’ve been getting little hints and stuff in pre-season. A few players have said it to me, and the manager’s been asking me a few questions – probably to test me – but it’s announced now so I’m really pleased.Jamaal Lascelles
“A few players have said it to me, and the manager’s been asking me a few questions – probably to test me – but it’s announced now so I’m really pleased.
“The majority of the fans have been wanting me to be captain, so I’m really pleased that they’ve found out as well.”
Benitez handed Lascelles the armband for the club’s pre-season opener against Bohemian in Dublin last month.
And Lascelles, signed from Nottingham Forest two years ago, hasn’t looked back.
Asked about the tests Benitez has set him, he said: “He’s been asking me questions in and around the training ground.
“I’m 22 years of age playing with senior players and experienced players, so he’s put a lot of trust into me.”
Benitez handed Moussa Sissoko the armband late last season, but the midfielder is set to leave the club before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
And he chose Lascelles over Jonjo Shelvey and Daryl Janmaat for the role, which was taken by vocal leader Kevin Nolan the last time the club was in the Championship in 2009-10.
“The player has to grow quickly,” said Benitez.
“He knows the responsibility of being captain of this massive club.
“We know he is young player, but he has the right mentality and he has the right players around to help him do the right thing for the team.
“You make the decision after analysing the character of other players – we have some with very good mentality who have come in – but he knows everything about the city, the club, the fans.
“He knows what it is like to be captain here. He passed the test with a very good mark.
“I am really pleased and the team-mates, when I was talking with them, realised he can be a good captain for us.
“We could see his reaction last season and we see him every day. He pushed himself to improve and his team-mates.
“That helped us decide who could be captain.”
Newcastle were relegated last season with an abysmal away record.
And Lascelles knows that United will quickly have to become a very different team on the road this season if they are to win promotion.
Asked about last season’s away record, he said: “I don’t fear it at all – I’ve not even thought about it.
“We’re Newcastle United. We’ve got to go into every game thinking we’re going to win.
“We can’t get complacent and take our foot off the gas, because the Championship’s a hard league.
“We can’t look at the opposition and think ‘Fulham can do this, or that’.
“We’ve just got to concentrate on our job and go to every game and have the right attitude in every match.”