Newcastle United star Matt Ritchie believes his recent positional change has made him a better player.
The Scotland international is ‘loving’ his new role as a left wing-back, where he has been shoehorned to cover the struggling Paul Dummett.
The Welshman has had his injury problems this term, which has prompted Rafa Benitez to play with wing-backs in order to get the best out of his replacement Ritchie.
A winger by trade, the ex-Bournemouth man has made a relatively smooth transition into the wing-back role.
‘I’m loving it’
He said, as quoted by Chronicle Live: “I’ve got to be honest, I’m loving it.
“I feel like I get in better areas higher up the pitch with the ball. I’d say that one of my biggest strengths is my delivery, and I get in positions now to cross the ball.
“I came away from those games (vs Watford and Manchester City) learning and becoming a better player. I’ve certainly really enjoyed playing left wing-back. The way we play, the lads in the middle are spraying the ball out wide. I think we’ve worked a lot on switching the play, and the wing-backs in this system are so important.”
Ritchie has been highly trusted by Benitez this season. So far, he’s made 30 appearances for the club, with the tactical change being rolled out around Christmas when he then started playing left wing-back.
It looks to be a system that works, meaning January signing Antonio Barreca may not see much game time until the end of his loan.