Newcastle United

Newcastle United: George Caulkin is backing Matt Ritchie to stay put in January

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The Athletic’s George Caulkin believes that Eddie Howe will be very reluctant to lose influential Newcastle United ace Matt Ritchie during January.

Ritchie has become nothing more than a squad player of late as he’s yet to start a single league game under Howe this season, and has only been afforded cameo appearances since the turn of the year.

Therefore, reports suggesting he could look to leave in January and move back down south to Bournemouth will not come as much of a surprise, but it appears Howe is very keen on keeping his veteran winger around the club longer than many may have expected.

Caulkin has revealed on the latest episode of Pod on the Tyne that Ritchie is so influential behind the scenes that Howe won’t want him to leave next month.

He said: “Someone like Matt Ritchie – yes, hasn’t played very much – he was interviewed in the club programme for the Bournemouth match, I think it was, and he talked about how much he’s loving being part of it.

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“Yes, his role has adapted in the sense that we’re not seeing him very much, but he’s still one of those driving figures around the training ground and in the dressing room, and I’m sure Eddie Howe would be very reluctant to lose that in lots of ways midway through the season.”

TIF Thoughts on Ritchie’s future…

It does seem a bit bizarre that Howe would be reluctant to lose someone that he’s handed just four minutes of league action to this season and even omitted from several matchday squads – but that just goes to show the character of Ritchie.

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The fact that Howe is seemingly so keen to keep a veteran winger who very rarely plays suggests Ritchie must keep driving up standards and demanding more of his teammates behind the scenes.

Howe spoke earlier in the year about how he thought Ritchie could well be on his way out the door at the end of last season due to him being away from the south coast for a long time, but with the winger now set to prolong his career on Tyneside, it would complete a shock U-turn.

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