Jamaal Lascelles speaks of his pride at captaining Newcastle United

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles during training

The young defender has improved greatly in recent months.

Newcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles in action with Swansea's Alberto PaloschiNewcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles in action

Newcastle defender Jamaal Lascelles has spoken of his pride at wearing the armband in recent fixtures, in quotes published by the Chronicle.

The 22-year old struggled to make an impact under Steve McClaren last season but began to flourish once Rafael Benitez took over and being given the armband during the club's tour of Ireland is the latest sign of his rapid progress.

“It took my breath away because it’s such a big thing for me,” said Lascelles.

Newcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles in action with Sunderland's Jermain DefoeNewcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles in action with Sunderland's Jermain Defoe

“It’s unbelievable to be wearing the captain’s armband for Newcastle United, even in a pre-season friendly.

“I class myself as a leader but wearing the armband made me feel 10 feet tall, like a proper leader. For Rafa Benitez to give me the captain’s armband shows how much trust and respect he has for me and I will never forget this moment,” he added.

Lascelles arrived from Nottingham Forest last summer – after being signed the previous year and returning to the Reds on loan - with high expectations but failed to hit the ground running on Tyneside.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles during trainingNewcastle United manager Rafael Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles during training

He has been a man transformed under Benitez however and looks to be forming a very promising partnership with fellow young defender Chancel Mbemba.

The departure of Fabricio Coloccini this summer has left the captaincy vacant and Lascelles is certainly in the running to take hold of the armband permanently.

Newcastle's Jamaal Lascelles applauds the fans at the end of the matchNewcastle's Jamaal Lascelles applauds the fans

Benitez has returned the feel-good factor to St James Park, despite the club’s relegation to the Championship, and it is the faith he is putting in the likes of Lascelles that are key to this feeling.

The Spaniard is slowly constructing a squad of his own making and is striving to ensure that it is made up of players willing to give their all for the club and follow his vision precisely.

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