Benitez speculation has not unsettled us, insists Newcastle skipper Lascelles

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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 on Thursday 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 wrangle over backing from controversial owner Mike Ashley.

Lascelles raised eyebrows on Tyneside when he described the sportswear magnate 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.

He said: “I don’t really sense that. 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.

In the meantime, the Magpies have stumbled through the first 11 games of the new season without winning any of them, simply increasing the frustrations of fans who have been in open revolt for much of the Sports Direct tycoon’s reign.

However, Lascelles said: “When you’ve got the manager and the staff together, and then you’ve got Mike by himself and then you’ve got the fans against Mike and then you’ve got the media putting stories in, it’s just a big mess.

“If it was one without different little cliques, I do think we would be a much better club, and all the negativity and bad energy, we could change that.”

Newcastle currently sit inside the bottom three and although Lascelles is adamant he would be going nowhere in the event of relegation, he is not even contemplating that possibility.

He said: “No. We’re not going to get relegated at all, it’s not happening.”

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