Is Jamaal Lascelles out of his depth at Newcastle or can Benitez turn him into a quality defender?

St James Park Four

The Newcastle United centre-back looked poor against Leicester City.

Newcastle United headed into their first match under Rafa Benitez with a back-four consisting of Daryl Janmaat, Jamaal Lascelles, Steven Taylor and Jack Colback, with only the Dutch international likely to start there when everyone is fit and available.

When you consider that, the fact that the Magpies kept Leicester City to a single goal in a 1-0 defeat shows just how much Benitez has done in his short time at the club. But in Lascelles Newcastle have a player who looked worryingly out of his depth on Monday evening.

With just 14 first-team appearances for Newcastle under his belt so far, Lascelles cannot be blamed for looking off the pace. However, at 22 his positional awareness and defensive ability should be far more evident than they were against the Foxes.

When you consider the likes of Phil Jones and John Stones broke through as teenagers, Lascelles’ age should not be a factor, especially when he racked up 65 games for Nottingham Forest.

  Passing AccuracyTackles WonEffective ClearancesPossession LostDuels WonAerials WonInterceptions WonBall RecoveriesMins Played
Jamaal Lascelles 86% 0 3 7 3 2 1 3 90

So what does the future hold for Lascelles? Is he a fish out of water or can Benitez turn him into a Premier League quality player in time?

The centre-back certainly showed glimpses of his ability, not least with a passing accuracy of 86 per cent, yet his positional sense was non-existent in the build up to Leicester’s goal and the fact that he did not win a tackle all evening speaks volumes.

Lascelles must learn to impose himself on games if he is to succeed at Newcastle, but on this evidence Benitez will surely be looking for significant defensive reinforcements in the summer.

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