Following their dreadful start to the Premier League season, Newcastle United were able to string three consecutive wins together last month after they beat Watford, Bournemouth and Burnley to climb out of the relegation zone.
And at the heart of those victories was the team’s backline with central defence looking like a particularly strong area for Rafael Benitez right now.
Summer signings Federico Fernandez and Fabian Schar, especially, have both impressed in the games against the above teams, which could spell bad news for Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles.
Lascelles played a gigantic role for the Magpies last season as they finished in the top half of the Premier League table following their promotion from the Championship and has since go on to sign a new six-year contract with the club.
However, everyone knows how much work Benitez puts into the defensive side of things, so with Fernandez and Schar playing so well, it is hard to imagine the Spaniard disrupting things in that department with things currently going to plan.
The Newcastle boss, of course, does go with a five at the back system from time to time, giving room for £13.5m-rated (Transfermarkt) Lascelles, Fernandez and Schar to all be included in the starting XI.
But any extended period out of it when fit could easily see the 25-year-old be linked with a move away from the club.
And with Lascelles’ transfer market value having risen due to his new contract, should Newcastle still be under Mike Ashley’s ownership, given his track record, it would not be a surprise to see the centre-half moved on for big money if he is no longer a regular starter under Benitez.
There is still a long way to go until then, however, and given his ability, everything points towards the former Nottingham Forest man maintaining a regular spot in the team. If not, though, some big decisions may have to be made at St. James’ Park.