Newcastle United fans have been left sweating on the fitness of key duo Issac Hayden and Matt Ritchie as they both picked up ‘soft tissue’ injuries in their 1-1 draw with Aston Villa, Steve Bruce has confirmed.
Hayden was consequently replaced by Nabil Bentaleb and Ritchie by Dwight Gayle, who ended up scoring for the Magpies after some rather good work by Andy Carroll, before Ahmed Elmohamady nodded in at the near post from a corner with less than 10 minutes to go.
Indeed, to concede from a set piece, especially with the way the ball found itself in the back of the net, would surely have worried some members of the Toon faithful, but what is arguably more worrying is the fact that they could be without two of their key players for the home FA Cup tie against reigning champions Manchester City, who have scored eight goals without reply against Arsenal and Burnley in the Premier League restart.
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Hayden has featured in 26 games in the top flight so far in the 2019/20 season, and has won a relatively impressive 5.6 duels per match, as well as creating five big chances, according to Sofascore.
In Ritchie’s 12 appearances in England’s highest division so far in this campaign, he has produced 1.8 key passes per game and also averages 1.2 shots, as per the website.
It is unclear yet as to whether the pair will be fully fit and available for selection for the Tyneside club’s first FA Cup quarter-final in 15 years, but given what they can both offer the team, it would arguably be a huge blow to their chances of beating Pep Guardiola’s side if they are injured.
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