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Resurgent Newcastle star reveals exit was on cards; lauds top Villa man

Matt Ritchie has revealed he came close to leaving Newcastle in the January transfer window, during a recent interview.

He has regularly featured for Steve Bruce‘s side in recent weeks but recently told Sky Sports that an exit from St James’ Park was very much on the cards for him. Notable interest in Ritchie included his former club Bournemouth, who were keen on bringing him back to the south coast on loan.

Tensions ran high between the Scottish international and Magpies boss Steve Bruce following Newcastle’s draw with Wolves back in February, a likely factor in him considering his future on Tyneside.

It was reported by the Daily Mail that a training ground bust-up had ensued between the two after Ritchie took issue with Bruce blaming the Newcastle players for how they conceded Wolves’ equaliser.

The 31-year-old winger had previously missed two months of football this season as a result of a shoulder injury he sustained in Newcastle’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool in October.

Ritchie opened up on the difficulties he faced at the club when he wasn’t getting picked to play.

“If I’m honest, yes, I thought my Newcastle career was over, he said.

“It was difficult, it was probably my first spell in my career where I’ve been fully fit and not involved, so that was difficult mentally and physically, how to adapt and adapt my training. They’re challenges I’ve not had before.”

Newcastle fans will rejoice in Ritchie’s decision to remain at the club – the Magpies have lost just one of their last five games upon his return to the starting XI, a major boost to their survival hopes.

They currently sit nine points clear of Fulham in 17th and remain on course for a fifth successive season in the top flight.

McGinn is the man for Ritchie

Having recently opted against representing Scotland for the foreseeable future, the Newcastle winger will not play for his national side at the upcoming European Championships.

Despite this, however, he enjoyed watching them qualify for the tournament, citing Aston Villa’s John McGinn as a crucial asset to manager Steve Clarke.

He added: “I like watching the games, the players I’ve played with, the wee man John McGinn is flying, and hopefully they can have some real success at the Euros.

“When I speak to John, he says how much every single player enjoys it. They love going, the culture they have within the group, and from the performances they give, you can see it.”

Scotland will kick off their European campaign on June 14, when they play Czech Republic at Hampden Park.


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