Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce believes his squad has really missed the influence of Matt Ritchie in recent weeks.
The 30-year-old has been out of action since August following a challenge from Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury which resulted in damaged ankle ligaments.
Ritchie recently underwent minor surgery, and is on target to return by the end of the month.
Although Newcastle appear to have managed well enough without Ritchie due to the emergence of Jetro Willems, Bruce admits his character has been a miss for the Magpies.
He told reporters (quoted by The Chronicle): “Of course you’re going to miss someone like Matt because of his energy. He’s effervescent – he’s always, always positive – so we’re without him at the minute so we have to deal without him but certainly Matt Ritchie is one of them.”
Newcastle’s game with Chelsea will likely come too soon for Ritchie, with the clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on October 27 more realistic.
Ritchie appears to be a well respected figure behind the scenes at Newcastle and he does have a good energy about him.
On the pitch his work rate often stands out, and it’s something every side needs.
That said, Willems really has looked great at left full-back and £45,000-a-week ace Ritchie (Spotrac) could face difficulty reclaiming his place in the actual starting XI.
Undeniably though, him coming back into the squad as a senior figure is a big positive.