Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles has called for a united front as rebelling fans prepare to step up their campaign against controversial owner Mike Ashley.
The 24-year-old defender signed a new six-year contract extension on Thursday to commit his future to the club at a time when manager Rafael Benitez’s continued presence remains uncertain after the latest in a series of frustrating transfer windows.
Supporters who have been protesting for months are ready to step up action and are calling for a boycott of the Premier League fixture against Wolves on December 9.
However, asked about the dinner he and his team-mates and the coaching staff had with Ashley last month, Lascelles said: “Speaking honestly – and it might not be what everyone wants to hear – as a club, I think it’s important everyone is together, especially when we’re right down at the bottom of the table.
“I think the meal was really positive, having a sit-down meeting for the first time, hearing him [Ashley] speak and seeing what he’s like as a man. He’s a nice guy.
“I know fingers are being pointed at him, but I think it was a positive meeting and if it could happen more, I don’t think it would do any harm.
“If there are divides, I think it creates problems. If everyone in Newcastle stopped the negativity and tried to form a unity, that would help.
“When there are problems going on around, off the pitch, it does have an effect on you as players.
“It would help if everyone came together and put all that bad energy into positive energy, helping us get three points. That’s what everybody wants.”
Lascelles’ comments are likely to receive a mixed reaction among fans who are still waiting for a first win of the season, but he remains convinced they can drag themselves out of trouble and is delighted to have signed an improved deal.
He said: “It’s my prime years. I’m a centre-half and centre-halves don’t get to their prime until 26 or 27.
“I’ve still got a lot more to offer and knowing I’m here for another six years is a great achievement for me.
“It’s a thing off my mind and now I can just focus on what I’m doing on the pitch.”