DUBAI: Skipper Jamaal Lascelles believes the Dubai sun — and the hard work that goes on under it — can spark Newcastle United back into life in the Premier League run-in.
Two 1-0 defeats for Eddie Howe’s men at Chelsea and Everton brought to an end a remarkable top-flight unbeaten run that stretched over nine games, and back to mid-December.
With nine games of the Premier League season remaining, the Magpies have managed to haul themselves nine points clear of the bottom three, having occupied a place in it for much of the campaign to date.
And while Lascelles admits results have turned sour, he says that has not had an impact on confidence within the group, which will only be strengthened further on the training pitches of the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex this week.
“It would have been better coming here on the back of two wins — but that’s football,” said the Magpies’ club captain.
“We put on a fantastic run, but we still have a lot of hard work to do.
“Unfortunately our last couple didn’t go to plan but this trip has come at the right time. We want to get some hard work done and then we can have a strong push to the end of the season.
Lascelles continued: “We have some real tough games coming up. We were full of confidence then lost the last two. But our performance at Chelsea, and a bad decision by the referee, but you know we still have that confidence and we will hit form when we come back.”
Head coach Eddie Howe has reiterated the importance of the Dubai trip for team morale and bonding, as well as the positives training and recovery in a world-class facility can bring.
Lascelles seconds that message, believing the squad is making up for lost time having been under strict regulations during a COVID-impacted couple of years in the Premier League.
“It is important we get to spend this time with each other. Back in Newcastle it is always in a working environment, at the training ground, so it is nice for us to go to restaurants and things like that,” he said.
“It is more important because we have been in COVID. We have missed the kind of team bonding thing, and seeing each other outside of football. You miss that.
“Now that is all behind us we all need to make this kind of effort to do these kinds of things — and I think as soon as the gaffer came in, he is huge on this kind of thing. And he knows it has a positive impact, evidently, looking back at the time in Saudi,” said Lascelles.
“When you train with each other every day, in a working environment, you don’t really learn much about each other or ask each other many questions. You just see one side of a person. But in Saudi and here there are so many different experiences, things to do, and it brings out a different side to players.
“It is huge for team chemistry.”