Jamaal Lascelles has been the heartbeat of the Newcastle United squad for many years, captaining the Magpies for the majority of those.
The Newcastle enforcer has overseen many managers during his time at St James’ Park and even guided his team to the Championship title after relegation from the Premier League.
Many players have come and gone over the years, but Steve Bruce has managed to keep hold of the defence which Rafael Benitez put together during his three-year spell in the North East.
Fabian Schar and Paul Dummett have cemented their spots alongside Lascelles, and the trio have started to look solid in the heart of the back five in the past couple of weeks.
Bruce has noticed that form and singled out his captain, Lascelles, in particular for his performances, and even backed him to break into the international set-up with England in the near future.
“That is the next big step for him,” he told the Chronicle.
“You have just seen Tyrone Mings appear from nowhere. All you can do is keep playing well on the biggest stage.”
“I have been very, very pleased with him. The next step is now Gareth Southgate. And Gareth is welcome to his opinion.”
That is a big call for Bruce to make so early in the season, and Lascelles will surely feel added pressure on his shoulders to impress Southgate and England officials.
When you compare Lascelles to England’s starting central defenders from the Euro qualifier against Bulgaria on Saturday, Harry Maguire and Michael Keane, via WhoScored, it is clear to see that he could make the step up.
All three have started all four of their club’s Premier League fixtures so far, with all impressing and looking solid in defence.
The trio haven’t had to make many tackles so far, with Keane averaging the most, and Lascelles coming in a close second ahead of Maguire.
The Magpies’ man has averaged the most interceptions so far this season, highlight his desire to beat his forward to the ball and recycle possession for his side.
Both Keane and Lascelles have yet to be dribbled past in the league like Maguire has and looking at these comparisons it is clear to see why Bruce is urging Southgate to consider the 25-year-old for future England camps.