How Newcastle United's Matt Ritchie could be back in competitive action before August

New Scotland manager Steve Clarke has opened the door for Matt Ritchie to return to the national team set-up.

Tuesday, 21st May 2019, 3:00 pm
Newcastle United winger Matt Ritchie

The Newcastle winger fell out of consideration under Alex McLeish after the 29-year-old requested to be left out in November for the "foreseeable future".

In that time, Ritchie has missed four of the Scots' matches - including the scathing 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan in their Euro 2020 qualifier in March.

However, speaking soon after his appointment on Monday, Clarke has laid out his plans to try and bring back the likes of Ritchie, capped 16 times, into his squad.

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The former West Brom boss hopes to hold talks with those "who have maybe withdrawn from squads too easily".

“The door is open to everyone at this moment in time," said Clarke.

"If players have retired, then they have to unretire themselves. I won’t be chasing down players who have retired.

“If a player has retired from international football then I respect that decision and if they want to come back to the fold they have to get in touch with myself or the SFA and say that they want to make themselves available.

“The ones who have maybe withdrawn from squads too easily, it’s down to me to have that conversation with them to sell my vision of what we’re going to do as a national team and how we’re going to approach this tournament.

“And, hopefully, we can get as many good players on board as possible.”

Ritchie has received several plaudits for his form at Newcastle this term after playing a starring role as the Magpies retained their Premier League status.

It was at left wing back where the former Bournemouth man impressed as boss Rafa Benitez altered his formation after a run of 10 games without a win at the start of the season.

Benitez was able to guide to the club to safety with three games to spare, where Ritchie could also be rewarded with a new contract on Tyneside after admitting last week discussions have been held.

If Ritchie is persuaded to revive his Scotland career, his season will likely begin again in June when the Euro 2020 qualifiers continue against Cyprus and Belgium.