Steve Bruce watched his Newcastle side make it into the fourth round of the FA Cup last night with a comprehensive 4-1 victory against Rochdale.
Eoghan O’Connell’s own goal and Matty Longstaff’s strike put the Magpies in control before Miguel Almiron continued his goalscoring form.
One of the highlights of the night was Joelinton finally breaking his goal drought to round off the scoring and another was Matt Ritchie’s return from injury, playing 69 minutes.
And Bruce was keen to pay tribute to the former Bournemouth man, praising his impact around the club.
SB on Matt Ritchie: "We've missed him. We've been without some of our big players for a long time. When he's around the whole place is alive. He wants to play and is a great pro." pic.twitter.com/tXv2kZ0xN4
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) January 14, 2020
TBR’s View – Will Ritchie return as a winger or a full back?
Ritchie was pressed into action as a left back very often under Rafa Benitez and that’s where he played upon his return to action last night.
But he made his name as a winger and in a side which has lacked creativity for a number of seasons, that could be handy for Bruce as the season wears on.
It remains to be seen whether Ritchie will take up his original role on the wing or bolster Bruce’s defensive, but his energy and drive should provide a timely boost to an injury-ravaged squad.
Bruce clearly feels he can offer a lift, at a time when his side needs it most.