NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, England (Reuters) - Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles believes the players’ never-say-die attitude will ensure the team’s survival in the Premier League this season.
Although the promoted Tyneside club are likely to be among the candidates for relegation, the English defender says their mentality and dedication will give them a vital edge.
“Half of this team have already played in the Premier League and they know what it’s about. For us, it is a massive step up but we wouldn’t be in this situation if we couldn’t handle it,” Lascelles told Reuters in an interview at St James’ Park.
“Our ‘never-say-die’ attitude will keep us fighting until the final game and that will be a massive advantage for us this season. The main aim this season is to make sure we stay up and then see just how far we can push and kick on.
“I think we’ve got the right manager (Rafa Benitez) to lead us to where we want to go and we’ve got the talent and work ethic to carry that on as well.”
With fellow North East clubs Middlesbrough and Sunderland relegated from the top flight last season, Benitez’s side are the region’s only Premier League representatives.
Skipper Lascelles is determined Newcastle will learn from their neighbours’ errors and not become another ‘yo-yo’ club, bouncing between the top two divisions.
“I don’t think we’ll make the same mistakes they did. We’ve got too big of a fan base, talented players and a fantastic manager, so I don’t think that will happen to us,” said the 23-year old, who reportedly interested Chelsea last season.
“We’re an ambitious club, (we) want to take this club further and we’ve got a massive history. As players, the onus is on us to make sure we do that.”
Lascelles, who joined Newcastle from Nottingham Forest in 2014, played through the pain in the second half of last term before having a double hernia operation in May once promotion was secured.
Newcastle travel to Huddersfield Town on Saturday, having lost their opening fixture 2-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday after midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was sent off.
Ahead of the trip to the John Smith’s Stadium, Lascelles said it was vital to beat their fellow promoted rivals.
“We’ve got to pick ourselves up (after the Spurs defeat) and learn from our mistakes. We know what Huddersfield are about so we need to make sure we take it to them at the weekend,” he said.
“Huddersfield are well organised, as we saw last season, they’ve got a good manager (David Wagner) and the players all work hard.
“They’re a very aggressive team but we went there last season and beat them so there’s no reason we can’t go there on Saturday and do that again,” he added.
Reporting by Claire Bloomfield; Editing by Christian Radnedge