With Gareth Southgate about to name his England squad should Gareth Southgate look no further than our very own Jamaal Lascelles?
Instinctively, Southgate has a decent pool of players to pick from in this position. On further inspection however, and if Gareth is true to his word of picking in-form players, then surely our lad deserves a shot.
Moreover, Lascelles has a couple of things that others do not…
Firstly to the competition. Jones, Smalling and Cahill have to be there right? In Smalling and Cahill I don’t think there can be any argument. Jones however has looked less than assured in his 24 games this season although you would expect his international and european club completion experience to see him make the list.
Then there is Stones. Quality ball player…yes. Playing at the highest level…Manchester City certainly are. The issue is, they are doing so without him for large spells. So what’s it going to be Mr Southgate, form or history?
There are other candidates too. Keane and Tarkowski to name a couple, whilst Dier will be in the squad you’d expect and can cover at centre back which may allow the England manager to focus elsewhere on testing new players.
So why choose Lascelles?
Firstly, no one can dispute he’s been worked to the maximum this season now can they!
Results too are far better with him in the side that without him. Newcastle average close to 1.5 points per game with him in the side as opposed to under 1 point per game when he’s not playing.
His 3 league goals help with that of course but that isn’t really the driving force behind such a stark contrast in Newcastle’s fortunes when he plays.
The difference…is Lascelles. The man. The leader. For those who watch him on the pitch and those who observe him off it, Lascelles is a giant of a character. Calm, articulate and determined. A man who leads by example, a fact not lost on a world class manager like Rafa Benitez who has chosen him as his club captain.
For an England team that has a mental solidity when under pressure of a marshmallow it is the ‘leader’ Lascelles that Gareth Southgate should be turning to. Even if the man is not a starter quite yet at that level, the steel he would bring is something that has been sadly lacking from this England dressing room, it would seem, for a long time.