It is time Jamaal Lascelles stepped up for Newcastle in Coloccini's absence

The Newcastle United defender could be about to get a prolonged run in the team from the start.

Newcastle United are struggling for fit centre-backs with the vital Premier League clash against Stoke City on the horizon.

Luckily for the Magpies, Manchester City’s participation in the Capital One Cup final means they have the weekend off, but Steve McClaren’s men will be desperate to get back out on the field in a bid to put their 5-1 defeat to Chelsea last time out well and truly behind them.

The problem for Newcastle is that with Fabricio Coloccini and Chancel Mbemba both unlikely to be fit, they may have to take a risk on a player with just 11 first-team appearances under his belt, but on the plus side it could be the making of him.

There is no doubting Jamaal Lascelles’ ability as he proved at former cub Nottingham Forest. However at 22 the time has come for him to step up and prove he can be the difference for a Newcastle side fighting for their Premier League future.

The Magpies are currently 18th in the league, level on points with 17th-placed Swansea City but below them on goal-difference.

Much of that is down to the sheer number of goals Newcastle have conceded this season and it will be up to Lascelles to keep an impressive Stoke forward-line at bay.

Given his age it is time Lascelles proved his quality, with centre-backs far younger than him making names for themselves in the top flight and never looking back.

In fact, such is the fan feeling towards Coloccini even when he is fit and available that if the youngster performs well there could be no way back for the Argentine.

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