Newcastle United midfielder Matt Ritchie has taken a bold risk by making himself unavailable for Scotland as there is no reason to suggest someone won’t step up in his absence.
The 5ft 8in tall Magpies player (Source: Transfermarkt) has played 16 times for his nation and given that he regularly featured in the Premier League was no doubt a player Scotland manager Alex McLeish would like to call upon.
However the international boss shared when explaining his latest squad that while Ritchie hadn’t retired, he didn’t want to be considered for selection at this time.
“Matt wanted to be left out for the foreseeable future,” revealed McLeish, as quoted by the Herald Scotland.
“It’s private. It’s not something for me to discuss, he had injury issues as well and, again, there is management of his injuries.
“I wanted Matt to come in, but he has asked to be left out at the moment. He has not retired or anything. You don’t know everyone’s private life so you have to respect that. I think if you spoke to the people concerned you would be accommodating as well.”
While McLeish alludes to personal reasons potentially being behind his decision, the manager’s remark on his recent injury issues show it could a choice has made for a football reason.
For whatever reason he has chosen to step away from the international scene at this time, one thing is clear and that is that it will mute the reported doubt Rafa Benitez had about him in the summer.
The Daily Mail previously reported that the Magpies boss was unsure whether Ritchie could manage playing more than 25 games this season, but without additional matches to play for Scotland, surely that concern should have been eased.
Benitez’s doubt about Ritchie does appear to have held him back at the club this season, despite him being a regular face in the first-team.
There have been multiple occasions in the current campaign where the manager has opted to bring the midfielder off the pitch despite him being one of the players actually showing promising signs.
This was particularly highlighted when he benched Ritchie in the 65th minute of the clash against Leicester City and boos rang around the Stadium upon fans realising.
It seems for whatever reason, he certainly doesn’t show signs when playing, Benitez is constantly concerned about Ritchie’s fitness and this holds the player back as he seems to depart games he is excelling in.
After taking the bold risk of putting his Scotland career on hold, he might not be able to get back in the squad, Ritchie must have muted Benitez’s doubt about him and must be trusted to be able to see out games as he is talented experienced player.