Jamaal Lascelles says there’s no room for complacency at Newcastle United.
The club returns to Championship action on Saturday evening, when Rafa Benitez’s side take on Derby County at the iPro Stadium.
Newcastle are fourth in the division after three sucessive wins.
But captain Lascelles – who has experience of the Championship from his time at former club Nottingham Forest – knows just how challenging the coming weeks and months will be for United.
“It’s going to be a big ask,” said Lascelles. “Players can’t get complacent.
“We can’t think we’re going to walk all over teams. We’ve got to go there and prepare for every game like it’s a cup final like we did in the last games of last season.
“We’ve got great players, and with the attitude we’ve been showing recently, we can beat anyone on our day.
“We’ve got a strong team, and inside our changing room now it’s really strong.
“That’s massively important, not just the stuff on the pitch but inside the changing room. People are really starting to gel and get on with each other.
“People don’t realise, but it’s so important. You can have unbelievable players on the pitch, but if they’re not gelling, don’t know their jobs and aren’t working hard, it doesn’t matter at all.”
Newcastle, beaten in their first two Championship games, have had to quickly adjust to the demands of the division.
And Lascelles, handed the captain’s armband by Benitez on the eve of the season, feels United couldn’t be in better hands.
“It’s a really tough league,” said Lascelles. “When you’re going to Leeds United on a Tuesday night and it’s cold and raining, you need big characters.
“You need players to come out of their shells and start using their voices.
“It Saturday-Tuesday games. You need to be fit as well. You’re not just playing Saturday and resting all week.
“Rafa knows what he’s on about. Everyone trusts him 100 per cent. I think that’s the main thing. We’ve just got to crack on.”