Former England international Ray Wilkins has named the three Newcastle players who he sees as key to United’s promotion bid this coming season.

The player turned pundit thinks that ‘English talent’ can be at the heart of a Newcastle revival and appropriately uses a cricketing term to sum up the potential strength of Rafa Benitez’ team in the Championship.

Ray Wilkins says that the Newcastle boss is on a ‘good batting wicket’ if he keeps the same squad as last season, despite it ending in relegation.

When confirming he was staying at Newcastle, Rafa stated that he was under no obligation/pressure to sell any player, unless he himself chose to sell them.

The 3 players Ray Wilkins sees as forming a core to build from, are Jonjo Shelvey, Jack Colback and Andros Townsend.

In our recent survey where thousands of fans answered which 10 outfield players they would most like to retain, Andros Townsend was right at the top with 99% of supporters picking him.

However, two other players who scored almost as highly were Jamaal Lascelles (98%) and Chancel Mbemba (97%).

As for the other two Ray Wilkins choices, Jonjo Shelvey had the backing of only 66% of Newcastle fans and jack Colback 53% (to see the full list go HERE).

Ray Wilkins talking to Sky Sports:

Rafa Benitez is on a good batting wicket, as he will have the same squad that he went down with and there’s lots of good players in that squad.

“I think he will change players and bring in his own style of player but he has some good English talent.

“Especially in Shelvey and Townsend – if he can build a squad around that, with Jack Colback as well, I think they will be equipped to get out of that league.”