Matt Ritchie has eyes firmly on club career, despite significant international on the horizon

Matt Ritchie
Matt Ritchie
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Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie admits he’s treating the international break as recovery time, despite the fact Scotland have a crucial World Cup qualifier on the horizon.

Gordon Strachan’s men take on Slovenia at Hampden Park on Sunday evening, looking to keep up with the early Group F pace-setters.

It’s tough when you play Saturday-Tuesday all the time

And despite the significance of the clash, United man Ritchie still has one eye on the task at hand down south, with the Magpies looking to secure promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

The former Bournemouth wideman said: “I hope I’ll have a role to play [for Scotland].

“We’ve obviously got a lot of competition for places, and there are a lot of good players in the squad.

“But I’ll go there as I always do to try to do my best.

“In a way, maybe this is coming at a good time.

“We’ve had a lot of tough games recently, so it might be good to wind down a bit in training over the next few days and concentrate on recovering a bit.”

The Championship campaign has been an unforgiving one for United and Ritchie.

And just as the finishing line has come into the sight the cracks are starting to show in the Newcastle squad, with a number of key men sitting out the games with their respective countries.

“It’s tough when you play Saturday-Tuesday all the time,” said Ritchie.

“It’s hard to get yourself back to peak fitness and condition.

“Making sure you’re ready to go again is tough, and you’re always going into games with little knocks or strains.

“It’s two weeks now until we play again, and that might help.

“There’s obviously a few of us that are going away for internationals, but we’ll still be trying to look after our bodies and get back to peak condition.

“Then we’ll go again for the run in.”

Meanwhile, reserve midfielder Haris Vuckic is spending a week on trial at Dutch outfit FC Twente, in a bid to secure his permanent future elsewhere.

The Slovenian, once regarded as one of the brightest young talents in Europe, has been told he has no future on Tyneside.

And, as a result, has been allowed to head to Steve McClaren’s former club across the channel.

Vuckic, linked with AC Milan as a teenager, made his trial debut for the club last night, playing the full 90 minutes of a defeat to former United Europa League foes Sporting Lokeren.

Signed in 2009, Vuckic’s current St James’s Park deal is up in the summer.