Ryan Fraser saw his first competitive action in months last night in Scotland’s Euro warm-up against the Netherlands in Portugal. The 27-year-old came on in the 62nd minute to replace right wing-back James Forrest for a 30-minute run-out. The match ended in a 2-2 draw.
Fraser hadn’t played since a World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands at the end of March. Ryan scored Scotland’s 4th goal of the match but was playing deeper than usual at right wing-back. He had also scored a few days earlier as a substitute in a 1-1 draw at Israel.
However, the winger returned to Newcastle with a groin injury that required surgery. Despite returning to training in May, he ended up missing the final nine matches of an underwhelming first season on Tyneside.
He was seemingly coming into form after his performances for Scotland. He had also started the previous three matches for the Magpies before March’s international break. However, he just could never get going at Newcastle since signing as a free agent in September.
Last month, Steve Bruce expressed some concerns over Fraser playing in the European Championships this summer. This is what the head coach said during his press conference for the Sheffield United win:
“It has been a difficult time for Ryan. Whether he’s going to be picked in the Scotland squad, I don’t know. I would think that would be a gamble given that he’s missed the last six or seven weeks.
“He’s not played any real football or even trained in that period. But with the problems Scotland have, and with being able to pick 26 players, I don’t know. It would certainly be a gamble though.
“Ryan desperately needs a pre-season to get himself right. Pre-season is going to be huge for him, in terms of making sure he’s right for next season.
“It’s going to be key to him because he didn’t have a pre-season the season before, and last year’s was a non-entity for everybody really in terms of trying to have a proper pre-season.
“He’s got a big summer ahead of him, and the same goes for Isaac Hayden and Jamaal Lascelles. All of those people who have been injured with long-term injuries, pre-season is crucial to them.”
If Fraser can stay fit during Scotland’s Euro journey, it could end up being a positive for Newcastle. Fraser will return to pre-season in July with some match fitness and that can hopefully translate into a quick start.
Scotland manager Steve Clarke has also been playing Ryan at right wing-back recently. If Steve Bruce keeps with his 5-3-2 system, Fraser could soon get acclimated to the role and provide some stout competition for Jacob Murphy.
For his part, Fraser feels he will be ready for the Euros. The Chronicle have published the following comments from Ryan on his fitness:
“I’ve been training for the last three or four weeks now. It’s not like I’ve not been doing anything.
“People thought I was coming here with no fitness but I’ve been working hard and been keeping in touch with the gaffer so he’s known the ins and out of the last six weeks.
“I’m fully fit and I’ll use the next two games to hopefully get minutes in and be ready.”
Fraser has been a disappointment at Newcastle but that’s primarily due to his inability to keep fit. As Bruce said a few weeks ago, this summer is massive for him to get off to a good start for next season.
It begins on international duty which always presents an element of risk. Though if Ryan can put in some performances and come back in pre-season raring to go, that could end up being good news for Newcastle.