Defender Jamaal Lascelles is determined to help keep Newcastle United in the Premier League – while keeping an eye on a potential England call-up.
Lascelles has had a decent season for the Magpies, who are 15th in the table and fighting to secure a second successive top-flight campaign.
Asked about the chance of muscling his way into Gareth Southgate’s national squad, ahead of this summer’s World Cup finals, Lascelles said: “It would be great, but the only way I can get there is to put in consistent performances for Newcastle.
“My focus is on staying up.
“It is every kid’s dream to play for England, of course, but I know I have no chance if I am not giving my absolute all to keep Newcastle in the Premier League.
“The England manager has his set players. He has centre-halves who have been established in the Premier League for some time and I think it will take a lot to edge them out.
“If I keep doing my job, though, I do think I have got a good chance.”
Lascelles enjoys life under boss Rafa Benitez and said: “Since the manager has come in, things have been on the rise for not only the club but also for me.
“He showed a lot of trust in me to give me the armband. I definitely feel like I have developed since he has been here.
“If people would have asked us if we’d want to be where we are at this stage of the season (back) in the summer – a lot of people would have said ‘yeah’.
“I think we are in a good position, even if we have been frustrated a lot this season. We just need to keep working hard and trusting the manager.”