Why Matt Ritchie is in a hurry at Newcastle

Matt Ritchie
Matt Ritchie

Matt Ritchie says the games can’t come fast enough for him at Newcastle United – as he’s in a hurry to help the club up the table.

Ritchie swapped the Premier League for the Championship in the summer.

But the winger has no regrets despite the ferority and intensity of English football’s 46-game second tier.

Ritchie – who helped former club Bournemouth win promotion to the top flight the season before last – has impressed so far this season for Rafa Benitez’s side.

The 27-year-old is likely to be in Benitez’s starting XI for tomorrow night’s home game against league leaders Norwich City.

Asked about the demands of the Championship, Ritchie said: “I love it. I’m relishing the challenge of getting a massive club like Newcastle back in the Premier League and playing a part in that.

“It’s not a surprise to me that I’m enjoying two games a week. All players love playing games. You play a game, recover and go again.

“It’s fantastic. It’s good fun. Hopefully, we can continue winning and picking up points and climbing the table.”

Norwich went top of the division at the weekend after beating Burton Albion 3-1 at Carrow Road, while Newcastle were held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa.

United, in fifth place, could move to within a point of Alex Neil’s side with a win.

But Ritchie feels the game is no more or less important that any other this season.

“Every game’s huge, whether it’s top of the league or someone lower down,” said the Scotland international. “We need to set out to win every week.”

Villa substitute Aaron Tshibola claimed a point for Roberto Di Matteo’s side on Saturday night with an 88th-minute header.

And Ritchie and his team-mates left the field disappointed that they hadn’t made their first-half superiority count at Villa Park.

“It was a good point,” said Ritchie. “But with a little bit more finesse in the final third, we could have taken three points

Ritchie, having quickly settled into life on the field at Newcastle, is now settled off the pitch with his young family, who have now moved to Tyneside.

“I moved in my house last week and have got my family up now, so that’s nice,” he said. “I’m really settled and loving it.”