24-goal winger ‘excited’ after ‘unexpected’ Newcastle United deal confirmed

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Matt Ritchie is ‘excited’ about the role he has to play at Newcastle United ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.

Ritchie was out of contract at Newcastle this summer before the club opted to trigger a one year extension. The 33-year-old only played 32 minutes of Premier Leaguefootball last season and was limited to just two starts, both in the cup competitions.

But the former Bournemouth winger’s importance behind the scenes has not been lost on head coach Eddie Howe, who continually reiterated his desire to keep Ritchie at St James’ Park.

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While his game-time is likely to be limited again this coming season in the Champions League, Premier League and domestic cup competitions, Ritchie is accepting of his ‘changed’ role at the club having previously been a first-team regular.

Going into his eighth season on Tyneside, Ritchie told BBC Newcastle: “I think everyone knows the situation that I found myself in, I was coming to the end of my contract.

“I had a year option which was then in the club’s hands. But the manager and the football club made me feel that I was valued and that I have a role to play and I am excited about that.”

The former Scotland international has made just shy of 200 appearances for The Magpies, scoring 24 goals. Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron are the only current Newcastle players to have scored more goals for the club.

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Ritchie played a key role in helping Newcastle bounce straight back to the Premier League by winning the Championship in his first season at the club.

“I never expected to stay for eight seasons but I am thoroughly enjoying my time here,” he added. “It is an amazing place to be at the moment and hopefully I can be part of something special this season.

“Of course I understand my role has changed. We have an unbelievably talented squad that we have now. I am not giving up or taking a backwards step, when called upon I am ready.”

Ritchie started Newcastle’s pre-season opener at Gateshead on Saturday. United came from 2-0 down at half-time to win 3-2 in difficult conditions at the International Stadium.

Next up is a trip to face Rangers at Ibrox on Tuesday night (7:45pm kick-off).

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