By Will Butcher

Sky Sports pundit Ian Holloway has described Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles as a “rock”.

The centre-back has been in commanding form after being handed the captain’s armband at the start of the season, leading the Toon to first place in the Championship table.

Former manager Ian Holloway lauded Lascelles after naming the 22-year-old in his Championship team of the season so far, alongside Leeds star Pontus Jansson.

“The Newcastle attackers have grabbed most of the headlines this season,” Holloway wrote in his Sky Sports column. “But the defence has only shipped three goals away from home. Lascelles has been a rock for the Toon.

“Every successful team needs a leader like Lascelles, who is showing age doesn’t matter when appointing a captain.”

The former Nottingham Forest stopper has been a rare mainstay of Benitez’s Newcastle side, as the Spaniard continues to adopt a vigorous rotation policy that has seen the Magpies propel to the top of the Championship.

Lascelles has missed just one of Newcastle’s 19 league and cup encounters this season, as well as getting his name on the score sheet against Brighton.

According to The Sun, Newcastle’s number six has even been impressing Chelsea boss Antonio Conte who could be tempted to move for Lascelles as a long-term replacement for John Terry.

Lascelles is expected to start against Yorkshire giants Leeds on November 20, as the Championship season pauses for two weeks to make way for the international break.

In other Newcastle news, this youngster has made a bold claim about in-form midfield star Jonjo Shelvey.