When least season was falling apart and Steve McClaren & Fabricio Coloccini (amongst others) failed to show any leadership, it was Jamaal Lascelles who came from nowhere to become a fan favourite.

The young centre-back who had barely featured for Newcastle, stood up in the dressing room and told the rest of the squad what he thought about their attitude and lack of desire to help the club.

Then he repeated the same in public when interviewed, a tactic which had a big risk of backfiring, especially if he didn’t put in the performances himself.

However, Jamaal Lascelles didn’t disappoint and was a mainstay for Rafa Benitez, as Newcastle went unbeaten for the final half dozen matches.

The 22 year old looks set to continue with his role both on and off the pitch this coming season, his promising partnership with Chancel Mbemba surely to be given the chance to establish itself further, although understandably Rafa is looking to further strengthen in that position.

The Newcastle manager left with only two senior centre-backs with Williamson, Taylor and Coloccini all leaving in the last six months.

As for Lascelles’ role off the pitch, in his latest interview over in Ireland, the defender speaks for the team when he says ‘We have taken relegation on the chin and turned it into a positive. We know what we need to do now and we’re working hard for the season. I can’t wait for it to start’.

The United player’s words match those of many supporters, who see this coming season having the potential of being the starting point for turning the club around under the leadership of Rafa Benitez.

Interesting also of course to see who Rafa picks to lead his team on the pitch…

Jamaal Lascelles speaking to the official club website:

“The lads who have come in are excellent…

“Dwight will get us goals.

“Matt Ritchie is a fantastic winger.

“Hayden has come in and is very tidy on the ball for a young lad.

“Then you’ve got Jesus and Matz as well, and suddenly the squad is looking pretty strong.

“They are great signings and good lads off the pitch as well, which is massively important.

“There’s a different feel about the changing room, it’s really positive-minded, people aren’t afraid to speak up and everyone works hard on the field as well.

“The (training) camp has been pretty tough so far. The lads have come back in great shape though, everyone is flying, there’s a great mood in the camp and we are all working really hard.

“We’ve had double sessions almost every day but it’s what we need.

“It’s mainly football-based stuff, which all the boys are really happy with but we still get the intensity we need to get fit for the new season, which will be really tough.

“I’m really looking forward to it (playing Bohemian this Saturday), we feel fit and we are looking sharp in training so we can’t wait.

“Hopefully the way we ended last season, with so many positive results, we can follow that through now.

“We’ve taken relegation on the chin and turned it into a positive. We know what we need to do now and we’re working hard for the season. I can’t wait for it to start.”