By North-east correspondent Harry Sykes

Jamaal Lascelles delivered a blunt assessment of Newcastle’s failings this season – and supporters took to Twitter to commend his honesty and insight.

The 22-year-old defender pulled no punches after Rafael Benitez’s team slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Southampton on Saturday to leave their Premier League status hanging by a thread.

Centre-back Lascelles was a substitute at St Mary’s Stadium but replaced Steven Taylor in defence at the break when the visitors were two goals down.

Speaking afterwards, the former Nottingham Forest defender laid the blame squarely at the door of the players as he described ex-boss Steve McClaren and his replacement Rafael Benitez as “great” managers.

Lascelles told Radio Five Live the players “need more heart, more desire” and “bigger characters on the pitch, players who care and are going to get after each other”.

The former England Under-21 international’s comments struck a chord with supporters on social media site Twitter.

Lascelles’ honest assessment sheds new light on Newcastle’s failings this season and why a club that has spent £80million on new players in the past two transfer windows and was tipped for a top-of-the-table finish has failed so miserably.

With six matches of the season remaining, Newcastle are six points adrift of 17th-placed Norwich and seemingly nosediving into the Championship.

In other Newcastle news, Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has paid tribute to a former colleague from his St James’ Park days.