We were a bit surprised to see Matt Ritchie get the nod ahead of Valentino Lazaro yesterday. Not least of which because he was suffering from a knock that Steve Bruce had mentioned during Friday’s press conference.
The 30-year-old recovered in the nick of time and put in a strong performance in the 3-0 win against Sheffield. He bagged his first goal of this campaign, which has been a frustrating one for him.
While Ritchie was afforded far to much space to launch his shot, his goal was the vital second one that gave the lads some breathing room yesterday.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) June 22, 2020
Steve Bruce spoke to NUFC TV after yesterday’s magnificent win and explained the circumstances surrounding Ritchie’s inclusion in the team:
“He’s trained for the last two or three days. He’s had a slight strain but trained magnificently for the past two or three weeks, so it was all about him really, if he’s right.
“Thankfully, he was right, and if there’s a better pro around than Matt Ritchie, I’ve yet to see him. He forces his way into your team sheet because of his attitude.”
With the next match coming up on Wednesday, we expect Bruce to rotate the squad. However, Lazaro could find it very difficult to unseat Ritchie even on short rest.
Matt provides such intangibles with his passion and experience, we suspect that he’s recaptured the right-wing role for now.
Ritchie also spoke the NUFC TV after the victory yesterday. He’s not resting on his laurels as he’s looking towards the Aston Villa match on Wednesday and climbing the table.
“Certainly not job done. We need to continue.
“We can now hopefully start looking up the table and not so much over our shoulder and try and finish as high as we possibly can.
“I think the mentality and desire to continue to move the ball, keep the ball, in the second half. We can take that into the next eight games, I think it is.”