By Alex Taylor
Rafa Benitez appointed Jamaal Lascelles as Newcastle captain on Saturday in a move that could give a strong indication about the Spaniard’s plans for the upcoming season.
The centre-back was handed the armband for the 6-0 pre-season friendly win over Irish club Bohemian.
The decision is likely to be welcomed by Tynesiders given Lascelles’ increasingly authority in the closing stages of last season.
Newcastle chopped and changed captains during the campaign, with Fabricio Coloccini, Moussa Sissoko and Jonjo Shelvey all donning the armband.
Lascelles, 22, is believed to have caught Benitez’s eye towards the end of last season after becoming a big voice in the dressing room.
He also made forthright public comments which went down well with supporters frustrated at the lack of fight from the players before a late rally that ultimately proved to be in vain.
Newcastle were relegated to the Championship last season after a woeful Premier League campaign.
The game against Bohemian FC is one of five fixtures that the Toon will play before the start of the new season, having just completed a week of training in County Kildare.
The teamsheet for the fixture saw some of the club’s bigger stars relegated to the bench with Georginio Wijnaldum, Shelvey and Dwight Gayle all being forced to watch from the sidelines for much of the game.
Newcastle will begin their fight to return to the Premier League in just 20 days’ time, when they will play Fulham at Craven Cottage.
The St James’ Park outfit have endured a difficult few months but after suffering the loss of Andros Townsend to Crystal Palace, but will be excited about the future following an array of high-profile summer signings.