It’s been a long and frustrating wait for the Newcastle United supporters to see vital utility man Matt Ritchie back in the team.
The Scotland international went down under a horror tackle from Leicester City midfielder Hamza Choudhury in the Carabao Cup at the end of August.
It was hoped that he might be nearing a return, but that has now been scuppered. The Daily Star reported on Wednesday that Ritchie is losing his race to be fit to face Manchester United on Sunday.
That’s news that will have the Newcastle fans tearing their hair out. The 30-year-old is absolutely key to Steve Bruce’s side, and his phenomenal work rate and desire was sorely missed in the team’s 5-0 humiliation at Leicester City last time out.
The good thing about Ritchie is that he can do so many different jobs. If you wanted him at left back or left wing back, he’ll do that for you. With this Newcastle side short on creativity, the Scot can provide that as well. The statistics show as much.
As per WhoScored.com, the former Bournemouth man has averaged two tackles, 1.7 interceptions, 0.7 clearances and 0.7 blocks per game this season. Defensive capabilities? Tick.
Ritchie is also averaging 1 shot per game, 2.3 key passes and 0.7 dribbles per outing. So can he be useful in an attacking sense, as well? You bet.
That versatility is very much missed at the moment. Bruce doesn’t seem to know how to get the best out of his players, and Ritchie would have been a nice reliable option for him, particularly against a Manchester United side that is almost as vulnerable as the Magpies at the moment.
However, it doesn’t appear that the Scot will be able to face the Red Devils, and that’s a real shame for the Newcastle fans.