Darren Bent claims that Newcastle United winger Matt Ritchie has been a huge miss both on and off the field for Steve Bruce during his injury layoff.
The former Sunderland and England striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that the 30-year-old has crucial experience and know-how of what it means to be a Newcastle player and that his influence extends to the dressing room.
The Scottish winger has been missing since a tackle from Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury in the League Cup back at the end of August, with the former Bournemouth man absent for the last seven Premier League games.
Having returned to training in recent weeks, Bent says that Bruce needs the versatile utility man, who has operated as a left-back as well as a more forward-thinking player, back in action as soon as possible.
Asked if Ritchie had been a huge miss, Bent told Football Insider: “Yeah, he has – not only on the pitch but off the pitch as well, around the dressing room. He knows what it takes to play for that football club.
“He’s been there a while, he’s a good player, a good, good player, good leader, good experience so to have him back there, just someone to play, give heart and soul for that football club.
“It’s somebody they need back, do you know what I mean?”
Ritchie is one of the most experienced players at the club, having joined the Magpies back in the summer of 2016 after the club’s relegation to the Championship.
He has 129 appearances under his belt for the north east heavyweights, while he has also picked up 16 caps for Scotland.
In other Newcastle United news, Alan Hutton has suggested a “very good” player could quit the Magpies.