JAMAAL LASCELLES is adamant Newcastle United have what it takes to kick on in the FA Cup this season – a refreshing change to previous years when he sensed some players didn’t want it.

Lascelles, signed from Nottingham Forest three and a half years ago, has been at Newcastle long enough to know there have been players more senior than him who asked not to play in the early rounds of the competition.

While that was not everyone, it undoubtedly contributed to previous early exits in the FA Cup because Newcastle have not progressed beyond the fourth round since 2006 – dating back to before Mike Ashley took control at St James’ Park a decade ago.

But Lascelles insists there are no such concerns among the group he captains, backed up by a performance after Rafael Benitez had sent out a strong team to overcome League Two leaders Luton Town 3-1 on Saturday in the third round.

Lascelles said: “Yes, there probably would have been a few like that, but that’s not the case these days. Everybody wants to play and is pleased to be picked - that wasn’t always the case.

“In the past some players may have looked to have this weekend off after the busy period. It certainly wouldn’t happen now.

“We have a good group of lads here and everyone wants the same thing. We all work hard and we are friends on and off the pitch as you can tell from the football we try to play.

“OK, results haven’t gone great for us recently but at the same time we are playing good football. Not many teams score too many goals past us.”

Twenty-year-old goalkeeper Freddie Woodman was the only inexperienced name in the team when he was given the chance to make his first team debut.

Benitez suggested afterwards the strength of the team he sent out delivered a message that they want to take the competition seriously – providing they can keep out of danger in the Premier League as the final months of the campaign wear on.

Lasceelles said: “A lot of times you see managers pick lesser teams in the cups, but our manager named a strong one. He said to me before the game that we want to go out there and win and see how far we can get. It’s not like the Championship when you are playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday. You usually only play once a week in the Premier League, so it’s not as if you need to rest players. The players are happy with that.”

Eyebrows were raised on Friday when Benitez insisted that staying in the Premier League was the priority because of the financial implications of falling into the Championship.

But Lascelles, the club’s proud captain, would love to become the first Newcastle skipper to lift a domestic trophy since the FA Cup returned to St James’ Park in 1955.

He said: “It’s something I would love to do. That would be a dream come true for me. I lifted the Championship trophy last season and would love to lift the FA Cup.

“It will be tough. A lot of teams want to win it and will fancy their chances. But you never know - we could get another lower league team at home in the next round and god knows what happens after that ...”

Despite the satisfaction the players took from avoiding a cup shock to lower league opposition, the reality is they need to continue the winning theme when Swansea City travel to Tyneside in the league this Saturday.

Newcastle will head into that on the back of a run of just one defeat – to Manchester City – in five matches, including three wins, and that has lifted the whole squad and repaired some fractured confidence after a depressing run of form beforehand.

“Don’t get me wrong - every game we play we want to win,” said Lascelles. “I thought the boys conducted themselves really well. We are in a position where we do need to focus on the Premier League, but we knew we had a good chance.

“We’re through and who knows who we could get next. We want to see how far we can get in the cup without taking our eye off the league for one minute.

“Obviously you fancy your chances more in the cup the longer you are in it. Your preparation has got to be the same whether it’s your first game in the cup or the final. You’ve got to have the same focus for every game.”

Ayoze Perez’s double in the 30th and 36th minutes were followed by Jonjo Shelvey’s first of the season three minutes later. Those were the first goals scored by Newcastle at St James’ Park since December 9. It was also the first home win since mid-October.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” said Lascelles. “Ayoze has scored two goals and that gives him more belief, Jonjo was due a goal as well.

“Different people are scoring for us and it’s important that it’s not just one or two. The whole team is starting to get goals now. It’s definitely a confidence booster and now we are really looking forward to next Saturday."

The report on Lascelles’ fitness is also positive. He was withdrawn after Perez’s second goal purely as a precaution because he had been playing in discomfort after taking a knock.

He said: “I’m fine. I felt it go a little bit and took no chances. I just wanted to make sure we won. I’m fine for next week. It’s nothing really and I’ll be training Tuesday. I felt it a bit and didn’t want to make it worse. I think I made the right decision to come off and get it right for Swansea.”

While Newcastle’s focus turns to staying in the Premier League until the fourth round comes around, Luton’s attentions return to promotion to League One.

The Hatters made life difficult for the home side with the exception of that crucial nine minute period in the first half. After Danny Hylton pulled one back for the visitors they hit the bar and had another goal harshly ruled out for offside.

Nevertheless they are 11 points clear of the play-off places in the league and Nathan Jones’ is enjoying the moment – even if he was annoyed the 7000 away fans witnessed a poor period during the cup defeat.

“Newcastle knew they would come up against a difficult side, hence the side they picked. They gave us respect. They were professional and clinical,” said Jones.

“We came here not wanting a holiday or a day at the fayre. We came here wanting to test ourselves and give a good account of ourselves, and we probably did that.

“But my overriding feeling will be a bit of disappointment that we went 3-0 down. We’ve got good goalscorers and our exploits are widely known, but you can’t peg back 3-0 deficits against a Premier League side.

“Nevertheless it is a special time, and that is why I have to check myself at times. I might be disappointed but the fans have come here and seen us take on a Premier League side, which is what we dream about doing week in, week out.

“We’re moving forward. We have a group of players who want to graft and want to get better. We are developing players.

“We want to get to the next level and the next level after that and we’re not going to stop. There are good people at the club, right from the top. That has shown here at St James’ and we have emerged in a good light.”