Matt Ritchie is not expected to feature against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday after returning to training for Newcastle United this week, according to the Chronicle.
Steve Bruce was last able to call on the 30-year-old when Leicester City beat the Toon in the Carabao Cup on penalties, when Ritchie sustained ankle ligament damage during a challenge from Foxes midfielder Hamza Choudhury.
Ritchie had played the full ninety minutes in each of Newcastle’s opening three Premier League games of the season before facing Leicester in the Carabao Cup in late August, when a challenge by Choudhury left Bruce needing to replace the former Scotland international (TransferMarkt).
The wide midfielder was forced to undergo a minor operation on his ankle earlier this month, as well, and later travelled to Dubai for a warm-weather mini pre-season style training camp as part of his rehabilitation.
Ritchie has since returned to the North East and re-joined his Magpies teammates for normal training sessions this week, but is not expected to feature against Wolves on Sunday.
Bruce is said to be set to give Ritchie another week’s worth of training sessions before handing the 30-year-old a recall, and will continue with Jetro Willems at left-back against Nuno Espirito Santo’s Europa League side this weekend.
Ritchie has not shown any adverse effects to returning to training, but Bruce and Newcastle are likely playing his return carefully in order not to aggravate the issue and force the former AFC Bournemouth man to miss any further fixtures.
The versatile Gosport-born midfielder missing Sunday’s clash with Wolves will be his seventh on the sidelines, and Willems’ potential third-straight start after missing one of the Toon’s last six league games (TransferMarkt).
Newcastle would surely have liked to have had Ritchie available to face Wolves on Sunday, but are far better served keeping the £10.8million-rated (TransferMarkt) wide man watching from the grandstands for another week if they are not convinced his ankle is ready for action.
Willems has shown a good case of what he is capable of having featured regularly in Ritchie’s absence, but the Eintracht Frankfurt loanee was unable to replicate his standout game against Manchester United away to Chelsea last time out.
Newcastle fans, would you prefer Bruce risks Ritchie against Wolves rather than starting Willems? Let us know in the comments below…
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