Starting his first pre-season under Rafa Benitez, Jamaal Lascelles welcomed the chance to play some football on only the second day of training, saying it was ‘nice to get the balls out again’.

The United defender saying that under other managers they haven’t seen a ball for a fortnight and ‘they have just ran us into the ground’.

No matter what the Rafa plan though, Jamaal Lascelles says that the players will do whatever the manager asks of them, declaring that he was ‘over the moon’ when he heard Benitez had agreed to stay on.

As for the transfer business so far, the former Forest defender describes Matt Ritchie as ‘an unbelievable player’ and says Dwight Gayle ‘brings a lot of energy’.

Talking about Rafa Beniutez’ 12 match attempt at saving Newcastle United from the drop, Jamaal Lascelles says that what the Spaniard did ‘was unbelievable’ and it was ‘just a shame we (the players) couldn’t do it properly’ and get enough points in those final matches.

Jamaal Lascelles talking to NUFC TV:

“All the boys are really excited to get back in, get running again. Obviously two, well three, great signings – you can see the talent right away. Matt Ritchie is an unbelievable player, brings a lot to the training sessions. Really pleased to have him, Gayle as well, he brings a lot of energy.

“Yesterday we went in and did this running test, it was to see how quickly you recovered after a long run, that was pretty tough.

“Then today we did a bit of football which was nice, nice to get the balls out again. Great to be back, can’t wait to get started.

“I’ve had managers in the past where you didn’t see a ball for two weeks and they have just ran us into the ground. I don’t know what Rafa is going to be like with his training sessions but either way it will bring the best out of us, nobody will complain whatever he does.

“I was over the moon when I heard he was staying, such a breath of fresh air when I knew he was staying. I think that was the same for everybody.

“What Rafa did towards the end of last season was unbelievable, just a shame we couldn’t do it properly, but really pleased he is staying and this time we have a full season – so who knows what we can do with him.

“We know where we are at and have to take it on the chin, it’s football, it’s life, it’s a test for us now.

“We  have great talent in this dressing room, we just need to bring it out on the pitch and it is a massive boost bringing in these new signings.

“What we can’t do as individuals and as a team, we can’t get complacent and go to places and say ‘We are Newcastle United’ and we are going to walk it. Players in that league are tough, it’s going to be really physical and there is more games.

We have got to get our fitness and go with the right mentality, listen to the gaffer and his staff and go in the direction they send us.”