Matt Ritchie loved what Newcastle United fans did against Rochdale

Matt Ritchie says it was a “good feeling” to finally get back on to the pitch – and hear his name sung by fans.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 11:50 am

Ritchie made his comeback from a long-term ankle injury in Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Rochdale at Spotland, which ended 1-1.

The winger – who needed two operations on the ankle injury he suffered in Newcastle United's Carabao Cup defeat to Leicester City in August – replaced the injured Miguel Almiron in the third-round tie, which will be replayed at St James’s Park on January 14.

“It’s great to be back involved,” said Ritchie. “We’ll have to put that one to bed at St James’s Park. We’ve got players coming back from injury, so hopefully it’ll give them minutes and time on the pitch.”

Matt Ritchie.

Newcastle’s 3,200-strong travelling support roared Ritchie on to the pitch at Spotland – and sung his name.

“It’s a real good feeling, because when you’re away from it, everyone likes to feel significant,” Ritchie told NUFC TV.

“Being away from it, you don’t. You plod away in the gym and run, and the feeling to be back on the pitch and playing a part and the fans singing your name and showing appreciation that you’re back is a nice feeling. It’s a feeling you work hard for.”

Ritchie is not on social media, so he didn’t receive online messages of support during his four-month spell on the sidelines.

“It (social media) is not really for me,” said the 30-year-old. “I like to keep myself to myself and do my thing.

“The thing I love most is playing football, so to be back on the pitch, to have the fans sing your name, is a nice feeling for anyone. When you’re growing up you want to play football and be appreciated and show your skill on the pitch, and now I’m able to do that.

“I’ve got to work hard to get back in the team.”

Asked if he would be fit enough to start Saturday’s Premier League game against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux, Ritchie said: “Who knows? I feel good. I feel strong in my legs. But whether I’m ready come Thursday or Friday, that’ll be down to the manager.”