There’s little arguing with the assertion that Newcastle United have one of the weakest squads in the Premier League, meaning that injuries can affect them more than most teams.
So it was a disaster when Magpies utility man Matt Ritchie went down injured against Leicester City towards the end of August, and the team have definitely missed him.
However, there was some good news for the club’s supporters on Wednesday. The club’s official website revealed that the 30-year-old was involved in full training and could be in contention to face Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.
Ritchie has been almost unanimously prized by his managers due to his unrivalled work rate, but it’s his immense versatility that makes him so important to what head coach Steve Bruce is trying to do on Tyneside.
The Newcastle boss kept Ritchie in the left wing back role that Rafael Benitez converted him to last season, and the Scotland international was the main man at that position prior to his injury.
However, on-loan Dutch full back Jetro Willems has filled in rather well, meaning that Ritchie may be pushed forward into a wide midfield role. With the likes of Miguel Almiron struggling to make an offensive impact, the former Bournemouth man could be the answer to Newcastle’s creative woes.
As per WhoScored.com, in his three Premier League games so far this season Ritchie is averaging a shot, 2.3 key passes and 0.7 dribbles per game. Meanwhile, he averages two tackles, 1.7 interceptions, 0.7 clearances and 0.7 blocks per outing.
So not only would Ritchie improve the Magpies’ offensive troubles, he would help shore them up defensively, as well. That’s why the news of his potential Sunday return will surely have the Newcastle supporters buzzing.