Newcastle attacking mainstay makes stunning injury revelation - hints at imminent switch
Newcastle United winger Matt Ritchie has revealed that he was suffering with injury all of last season and that he had to have injections before eventually succumbing to surgery.
The 28-year-old dropped down from Premier League side Bournemouth to join the Magpies in the Championship and established himself as a mainstay in their attack, scoring 16 goals and chipping in with 10 assists on the way to promotion as champions.
However, his longevity in the side was the result of a stunning cost, with regular injections needed to stay fit.
He has retained his place in the forward line back in the top flight, turning out 30 times, and missing just three league fixtures, and has hinted at a switch from the wing to a central role between now and the end of the season after featuring in the number 10 position in the mid-season friendly against Antwerp, a match he scored in.
He told the Scotsman: “I was playing with injections for most of last season to get through the pain barrier.
“I made the decision to get treatment back at Newcastle (over playing for Scotland). As soon as the season finished I went straight in for the hernia operation.
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“I really enjoyed playing the No.10 role for the first time when we played Antwerp.
“Most of the time I have been playing out wide and really enjoy it. I will play anywhere on the pitch but my position is a wide man, either left or right.
“The last few years I have played more on the right and enjoyed it.”
Football Insider verdict
There has been no doubting Matt Ritchie’s commitment to the cause while at Newcastle but to hear of his regular injections shows just how much he wants to perform week in, week out. He is one of, if not the, hardest workers at the club and his energy and drive has been a key part of what makes this current squad successful. Still, could a switch to the middle be on the cards? Newcastle have been lacking a natural playmaker, the likes of Ayoze Perez filling in when needed, and Ritchie’s vision and determination could go hand in hand to provide Rafael Benitez the missing piece of the puzzle.
In other Newcastle United team news, the club have been handed a big boost over senior star’s injury doubts.