Ritchie, 30, was forced off the field after being on the receiving end of a hard challenge by Leicester’s Hamza Choudhury in last month’s Carabao Cup second-round defeat to Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Sky Sports reported at the time that Ritchie would miss two months’ worth of action with ankle ligament damage sustained by Choudhury’s impact.
However Bruce has now revealed that the former Bournemouth player is ahead of schedule in his bid to return to full fitness and might be back in contention within four or five weeks.
“The progress he’s made in two weeks is quite remarkable,” said Bruce, as quoted by injury expert Ben Dinnery via his personal Twitter account on Wednesday morning. “The way he is at the minute – we don’t put timescales on these things – but closer to four or five weeks might be better.”
If Ritchie can get himself back to full fitness within four weeks then he might be able to play in Newcastle’s clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on October 19. If it takes another week then his return could be against Wolves when the Midlands side travel up to St James’ Park on October 27. It is good news that Ritchie won’t be sidelined for as long as what was originally feared because he is a key part of Bruce’s plans. Ritchie started all four games in both the Premier League and Carabao Cup before that incident with Choudhury. Leicester’s midfielder should really have been sent off because it was a tackle that you never want to see players doing on their opposition, especially when it can cause injuries like what Ritchie now has. Ritchie missed the draw at Watford before the international break and could miss another four matches based on this latest update. Hopefully Jetro Willems can keep performing well in the left wing-back role after an impressive outing against Watford.