Defiant Lascelles’ rallying cry as Newcastle enter daunting run of Big Six games

Newcastle’s nightmare start to the season doesn’t worry confident captain Jamaal Lascelles.

After managing a point and a single goal in their opening two Premier League games at home to Tottenham and away to promoted Cardiff, the Magpies are now home to Chelsea, away to champions Manchester City and home against Arsenal over the next three weekends.

It’s not hard to imagine them arriving at Crystal Palace on September 22 still with just that one point on the board. But bullish skipper Lascelles insists Rafa Benitez’s side aren’t fazed by a run that will have seen them face four of the Big Six in their opening five fixtures.

“I wouldn’t say this is a difficult period at all,” said the Geordies’ on-field leader.

“We’ll get through these next few games. We’ve got a big squad and good players in every area.”

If you include pre-season friendlies, Newcastle have been held goalless in four of their last five games after Saturday’s 0-0 draw in south Wales. But Lascelles insists any talk of a second fight for top-flight survival in four years is premature.

“There’s no need to panic,” added the 24-year-old. “We started last season with two defeats, so at least we’ve come away from Cardiff with something.

“There’s no point dwelling on the negatives. We have to stay positive.

“We’ll just stay calm and train hard and whatever team the gaffer decides to go for in our next game, it will be a good one.”

Chelsea loanee Kenedy, who was lucky not to be sent off and then missed a stoppage-time penalty against Cardiff and Isaac Hayden, who did get a red card on Saturday, are both unavailable for Sunday’s visit by the former’s parent club.

Newcastle’s Under-23 side gave Benitez a timely boost on Monday — a team featuring ten Geordies thrashed local rivals Sunderland 5-0 at St James’ Park.

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