Difficult to believe that Mohamed Diame is now one of the first names on the teamsheet.

With so much happening on and off the pitch this has been a long old season and it was only back in October when things hit rock bottom for Diame.

With not a single start in the Premier League under Rafa Benitez, Jamaal Lascelles then called the midfielder out at training in front of the rest of the players for being lazy and not trying hard enough.

Blows were exchanged and afterwards the Newcastle Captain explained why he felt compelled to do what he did…

Jamaal Lascelles after confronting Mohamed Diame back in October 2017:

“I just didn’t like what I saw.

“If it gets to blows, it gets to blows but I’ve got to do my job, that is why I have the armband.”

The incident didn’t pay instant dividends, Diame eventually getting a start in the away defeat at Burnley. Three more games followed with Newcastle losing all three.

Mohamed Diame at last woke up when selected against his old club West Ham on 23 December and since then he has improved steadily beyond all recognition.

Winning 3-2 that day, Diame has started 11 of the last 12 PL matches with Newcastle winning four and drawing four, the only defeats to Man City and Liverpool.

Ironic now, that five months after Jamaal Lascelles confronted him, it is now Mohamed Diame with the fighting talk…

Mohamed Diame:

“I know what it is like to fight and stay up. I did it for three years at Wigan, for two years with Hull, with West Ham as well.

“I know what it takes, but a lot of players here are still young, we just need to fight, we know our jobs and what the manager expects from us.

“The manager keeps telling us we need to fight to stay in this division because every single team can beat every single other team.

“It’s about keeping your shape, working hard, making as few mistakes as possible.

“There is a real fighting spirit that we have built during this season, just like we did in the Championship last year.

I have known Jonjo Shelvey for a long time now and I know how good he is.

“So I’m trying to cover him when I can and help him to get on the ball.

“We know that when Jonjo gets on the ball he can deliver how he did against Southampton and win games for us.”