Rafa Benitez admits Matt Ritchie’s ban has given him a ‘problem’ at Newcastle

Matt Ritchie

Matt Ritchie

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Rafa Benitez feels Matt Ritchie’s loss can be another player’s gain at Newcastle United.

The winger will miss Saturday’s home game against Cardiff City through suspension after picking up his fifth booking of the season in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Preston North End.

It’s always a problem when you lose an important player, but at the same time it’s an opportunity for the others to show that they are good enough.

Rafa Benitez

Ritchie was booked for an 89th-minute foul at Deepdale, where he set up Aleksandar Mitrovic’s first goal for the Championship leaders.

Christian Atsu could return to the starting XI in his absence, having deputised for Ritchie against Brentford last month.

United manager Benitez admits the loss of Ritchie, an influential player so far this season, is a “problem” for him, though he is confident his replacement will seize the opportunity against Cardiff.

Asked about Ritchie’s suspension, Benitez said: “It’s always a problem when you lose an important player, but at the same time it’s an opportunity for the others to show that they are good enough.

“They have been doing that this season. I think it’s an opportunity for another one to show the level that they have.”

Ritchie was yesterday called up by Scotland, along with club-mate Grant Hanley, for their World Cup qualifier against England at Wembley on November 11.

Meanwhile, Paul Dummett was named in Chris Coleman’s 23-man Wales squad for the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Serbia at the Cardiff City Stadium on November 12.

he could come up against Newcastle team-mate Aleksandar Mitrovic who has been selected for his country’s Group D clash with the Welsh.