Jonjo Shelvey says Ki Sung-yueng will ramp up the competition for places in Newcastle United’s midfield.
Shelvey played with Ki, signed on a free transfer this month, earlier in his career at Swansea City.
The gaffer spoke about our team spirit and workrate. That’s the fundamentals of last year. That probably got us that 10th-placed finish, obviously with a bit of quality in the games. We’ve got to maintain that and add some more quality.Jonjo Shelvey
And the midfielder is looking forward to the pair renewing their partnership when Ki – who captained South Korea at the World Cup – returns from holiday.
“Ki’s a great lad,” said Shelvey. “He’s very neat and tidy on the ball.
“He’s just a great lad to have around. When I was at Swansea, we probably had the best season (2014-15) that Swansea have had in the Premier League.
“That was probably down to the midfield we had. We just clicked. It brings in another competitive face as well, so that’ll add to the squad.
“He’s a great player. He’s a very talented person.”
Ki, signed ahead of Mikel Merino’s departure to Real Sociedad, will compete with Shelvey, Mohamed Diame and Isaac Hayden for a place in Benitez’s midfield.
“There will probably be four of us fighting for two spots, so it’ll come down to who trains the best and performs the best,” said Shelvey, who was outstanding last season as United secured a 10th-placed finish in the Premier League.
Shelvey – who worked on his fitness through the summer – admits that he was “counting the days” to his return to the club.
The challenge for Newcastle now is to push for an even higher finish in the league.
“We’ve got a great squad,” Shelvey told NUFC TV.
“The gaffer spoke about our team spirit and workrate. That’s the fundamentals of last year. That probably got us that 10th-placed finish, obviously with a bit of quality in the games. We’ve got to maintain that and add some more quality.”