Jamaal Lascelles calm over Rafael Benitez’s uncertain future at Newcastle

Jamaal Lascelles insists the uncertainty over Rafael Benitez’s continued presence as Newcastle manager has not unsettled the dressing room.

The 24-year-old defender committed his future to the club until 2024 when he signed an improved contract, but Benitez – whose existing deal is due to expire at the end of the season – is yet to do the same amid a dispute over backing from owner Mike Ashley.

Lascelles raised eyebrows on Tyneside when he described Ashley as “a nice guy” after he and his team-mates had dinner with him last month, with fans planning to step up their protests against his ownership.

But he was equally forthright when asked about Benitez’s unsigned contract.

Lascelles said: “I don’t really sense that [the squad are unsettled]. All I sense is we’re a group of players, this is what we’ve got, this is the manager we’ve got, this is the owner we’ve got, we’ve got to get on with it. We need to get on with it as players.

“Me personally, as long as he [Benitez] is here, Newcastle will keep going up and up. Having worked under him, to be honest I didn’t know there was uncertainty about him not being here.”

Benitez has declined to put pen to paper after failing to get assurances that the club shares his ambition, while Ashley refused to sanction significant summer spending while the dotted line remained blank.

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