Steve Bruce has praised Matt Ritchie’s attitude, work rate and enthusiasm, revealing how ‘terrific’ he is ‘every day’ on the training field.
Ritchie was on the wrong end of a horror tackle from Leicester’s Hamza Choudhury in the Carabao Cup, but it sounds like he could be back sooner than first expected.
The tackle, which incensed Bruce, caused ankle ligament damage and was expected to keep him out for two months, however it’s now been claimed that he could be back in four weeks.
That said, Bruce has been speaking about his influence in training, revealing just why he’ll be such a ‘big miss’ over the coming month:
“His attitude, the way he trains, the way he works, looks after himself, the way he is as a pro is right up there as good as you can get,”
“He will be a big miss so he will have a break for a little bit and then we will have him back around the place because he has an abundance of enthusiasm and that rubs off on others.
“He’s terrific every day.”
It’s absolutely no surprise to hear Bruce say this. I’ve written before that Ritchie is the heartbeat of our team.
Whilst not being the best player in the squad technically, he demands the absolute highest standards from everyone else and his energy and will to win is infectious. His voice is always the first to be heard in training and during games, and is never afraid to give his teammates up the back side, literally! Christian Atsu will testify to that.
He’s also been reborn since moving to LWB. Tactically it suits him as he arrives late in attacks and isn’t often picked up. It also isn’t rocket science having the best crosser of the ball in the squad playing on his strongest side. This is further backed up by the fact he registered 8 assists and 2 goals last season after switching from the right wing, with his assists being highest by any Newcastle player since Joey Barton in 2010/11.
Here’s what Bruce had to say about his ankle injury, confirming that he’s already making ‘remarkable’ progress – which does not surprise me!
“Matt Ritchie being Matt Ritchie is surprising us all. When I looked over today, he was running. He’s back on the training ground running in straight lines,”
“I think that’s better news. With Matt, the good thing is it’s an impact injury. If there’s anything that an injury picks up on is impact. We know what it is.
“If it’s muscles, it’s always a bit of a problem and ligaments and things like that but he’s out on the grass and the progress he’s made in two weeks is quite remarkable. I think it could be good news for all of us.
“He doesn’t look as if he’ll be eight weeks I wouldn’t think. 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”.
Jetro Willems has looked good his since arrival and played well against Watford for the most part, but a fully fit Matt Ritchie is vital for us, on and off the pitch.