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Benitez defends Lascelles’ praise on Mike Ashley

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Rafael Benitez has come to the defense of his captain Jamaal Lascelles after praised Newcastle owner Mike Ashley who has been the subject of numerous protests by fans.

Lascelles called Ashley a “nice guy”, which angered Newcastle fans who are discontent with the way he’s running of the club, but his manager Benitez has in support of his comments.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been criticized in numerous protests in recent months for lack of investment, but he attempted to mend his relationship with the club and fans as he took the players and the coaching staff out for a meal last month and Lascelles commended his effort.

“We met Mike Ashley at a dinner that was supposed to create a good atmosphere so you can’t control his first impression,” Benitez told Sky Sports.

“His message was to try and keep everybody together, try to work hard. He was trying to be positive and send the right message to everyone.

“When you meet someone for a dinner for a couple of hours, it is not that you are having an opinion on what has happened in the last 11 years. He is not trying to do that.

“It is not a big issue for us.”