Matt Ritchie is a doubt for Newcastle United’s trip to Watford at the weekend, after being the victim of what manager Steve Bruce has described as a ‘horror challenge’ by Leicester City midfielder Hamza Choudhury in the Carabao Cup clash on Wednesday night, via quotes by the Chronicle.
Ritchie has been a key player for the Magpies in recent seasons, and offered Rafa Benitez a versatile option during what proved to be the Spaniard’s final campaign at St. James’ Park, as he called on the former Scotland international to convert into a left wing-back (TransferMarkt), having spent his career honing his trade on the wings.
New Toon boss Bruce has thus far continued with the 29-year-old in a defensive role as he fine-tunes his set-up on Tyneside, but now faces enforced changes for Watford’s visit to the North East on Saturday.
Ritchie was replaced by Christian Atsu in first-half stoppage-time against Leicester in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night and required stitches in his ankle, after Choudhury left the Gosport-born ace in a ‘mess’.
“It was difficult with the problems we had,” Bruce noted after the game. “I was forced to make the changes, we didn’t want to do it and we’ve lost three tonight.
“The mess Matt Ritchie’s in – it was [a] horror challenge. When I see the mess on his leg. We fear ankle damage, he’s got three stitches in his leg. I don’t want players sent off, but when it’s horror challenges, it isn’t good. It’s over the top. Believe me, it’s a horrible one.”
Newcastle are also facing the prospect of playing Watford without summer signings Jetro Willems and Emil Krafth, as they suffered hamstring and thigh injury’s respectively against Leicester in the Carabao Cup defeat on Wednesday night.
Being without Willems and Krafth, as well as Ritchie, is sure to give Bruce a selection headache, as they may have been his natural options for the left and right wing-back roles against the Hornets, but must now consider a change of position for either Paul Dummett or Javier Manquillo.
Dummett has featured exclusively at centre-half in the Premier League this season (TransferMarkt), but is capable of playing on the left-hand side of the backline, as the position has been the 6ft ace’s preferred role throughout his career.
Manquillo, meanwhile, is a versatile wing-back through his ability to play on either side of defence, but will likely be needed on the right if Krafth is not deemed fit to play. Outside of DeAndre Yedlin (who is yet to make an appearance this season), he is the only real option.
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