Jamaal Lascelles found himself out of the first team at the start of the season.
A combination of a pre-season injury and impressive form in friendlies from the Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark partnership, leading to the NUFC captain sitting on the bench when the season kicked off.
However, Lascelles only had to wait seven minutes, as he replaced the injured Paul Dummett against Spurs as Rafa reorganised his defence.
Jamaal Lascelles hasn’t really looked back since, his place back in the team cemented when Lejeune also went off injured in that Tottenham match.
Speaking ahead of Liverpool, Lascelles says that the attitude of the squad is far better under Rafa Benitez than it was previously.
The former Forest player believing that honesty is key to it, with the Newcastle team not kidding themselves when playing badly.
Despite being captain last season, Lascelles saw the ruthless side of Rafa himself, dropped after the opening two defeats, the player not complaining and coming back stronger.
The winning goals against Swansea and Stoke have catapulted the United skipper into the limelight and now there is even mentions of a possible England call-up.
Goals or no goals, Jamaal Lascelles will be judged on his defending and Liverpool pose arguably the sternest test so far this season.
A great opportunity for the team and especially the captain, to impress a worldwide audience.
Jamaal Lascelles talking to the match programme v Liverpool:
“The players that the manager has brought in are really talented players, but they have got a good mentality, they’re good lads, they work. That’s exactly what you need.
“I’ve never understood why, if you’ve got so much talent, you wouldn’t want to work harder and be an even better player. I guess that’s my mentality. But it’s completely different now. We’ve got a really good group, and it’s shown in the games that we’ve played.
“Our running stats have been a lot higher than other teams. We win second balls, we’re ruthless, we’re passionate.
“We get on each other when we lose, or if someone’s not pulling their weight, but we encourage when someone’s doing well. That’s exactly what you need, and it’s important we maintain that.
“It’s not something I think about doing, I’m just an honest person. I’ll be honest – if we’ve not played well I’m not going to defend the team if they’ve not pulled their weight,” he says.
“I’m not going to defend myself if I’ve not pulled my weight.
“I’ll be honest, be humble in victory, and I think that’s important because as players and as a team you don’t want to get too carried away, and you’ve got to realise what situations you’re in.
“I’ll always be honest.”