Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles is backing £40million striker Joelinton to prove his worth after seeing him end his 20-game wait for a goal.
The 23-year-old Brazilian has found himself under increasing pressure in recent weeks after failing to add to his only previous strike, a Premier League winner at Tottenham on August 25.
However, he finally found the back of the net late in Tuesday night’s 4-1 FA Cup third-round replay victory over League One Rochdale to the delight of his team-mates.
Lascelles, who was on the sideline having been substituted following his return from an 11-game absence with a fractured tibia, said: “You could see everyone’s reaction the minute he scored. I was jumping up and nearly went on the pitch!
“He’s a really good player and it’s tough for him. He’s playing up there by himself most games and fighting centre-halves. He does do a lot for the team and now he’s got a goal.
“Hopefully it can give him the confidence to start banging in more goals for us.”
Joelinton, who headed for Tyneside from Hoffenheim as the club smashed their transfer record during the summer, has enjoyed the backing of head coach Steve Bruce throughout a difficult run of games, and that support extends to the dressing room.
Lascelles said: “That’s what probably makes it even harder for us to see him go weeks and weeks and weeks without scoring. You just want him to score.
“He’s a great professional. He’s there early and puts in the work at training, is in the gym and keeps his head down and doesn’t moan about anything.
“He genuinely does care and works hard for the club, so I was over the moon for him to get a little relief and hopefully it can boost him for more games to come.”
It was a relief too for Lascelles to be back out on the pitch after having to sit out a frustrating festive period in a treatment room which became increasingly crowded as the casualties piled up.
However, Lascelles, who was given 56 minutes on his return to action, does not know yet if he will be involved in Saturday evening’s Premier League showdown with Chelsea.
He said: “I have to sit down with the doctor and the gaffer because we do need to be careful with managing players because of all the injuries. I recover fast, so I’m raring to go.”