Matt Ritchie is looking to end the season with a bang – after hitting form in front of goal.
The winger’s scored in Newcastle United’s last two home games, and he’s now got tomorrow’s opponents Huddersfield Town in his sights.
Assist-wise, I’ve done OK, but goals, for sure, it really does give you a boost in confidence. It’s the best feeling in the world to score, and I was delighted to get the one against Man United.Matt Ritchie
Ritchie scored 16 goals in all competitions last season.
However, the 27-year-old didn’t score for the first six months of this campaign.
Ritchie got off the mark with a strike in last month’s 1-0 win over Manchester United and went on to net in the club’s 3-0 win over Southampton before the international break.
“It’s something that I like to do, score goals and create them,” said Ritchie, who withdrew from the Scotland squad at the start of the week with a groin injury.
“It was frustrating for me not to be scoring. But I kept plugging away, and luckily enough got my goal. It was a significant one as well (against Man United).
“It was a pleasing moment, and hopefully I can continue that until the end of the season.
“You’ve got to keep getting in the positions, and I think, throughout the season, I’ve done that. I’ve hit the woodwork a fair few times and been unlucky.
“It could have been a completely different story for me personally. I think I’ve hit the woodwork three or four times.
“I’ve been unlucky, but I need to keep going and keep getting in the positions. In time, it will come. It’s something I learnt as a younger player.”
Asked if his long run without a goal had played on his mind, Ritchie said: “Yes. Being an attacking player, you’re judged by your goals and your assists.
“Although the numbers says five or six (assists), there are three where they’ve taken tiny nicks off a defender and I’ve not been given it.
“Assist-wise, I’ve done OK, but goals, for sure, it really does give you a boost in confidence.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to score, and I was delighted to get the one against Man United. Once you get one, your confidence normally shows, and you take more opportunities.
“I think I’ve been unlucky at times, but you keep going. If you don’t get in the positions, you don’t get a chance to score a goal.
“You keep plugging away, keep making the runs, keep getting in the right positions, and your time will come.”
Ritchie – who is back in training at Newcastle – has directly set up five Premier League goals this season.
“It’s very pleasing,” said Ritchie, signed from Bournemouth in the summer of 2016.
“You want to be a significant part of the team, and I felt that I’ve done that. At the start of the season, I got a fair few assists, and throughout the season I feel I’ve chipped in where needed.
“We’ve had a steady season, and hopefully we can continue that. If everyone can perform to their top levels as a team, we’ll be strong, and the aim’s to stay in the league.”
Relegation-threatened Newcastle have only been beaten by Premier League leaders Manchester City and third-placed Liverpool since Christmas.
United are 13th in the division – and four points above the relegation zone – ahead of the Huddersfield game.
“We’re on a good run,” said Ritchie. “We need to continue that. As I said after the game against Southampton, we’ve done nothing yet.
“We need to continue to perform well, pick up points and hopefully safety will come with that.
“You’ve seen throughout the season that it’s so tight. If you get beat or win a game, it changes the table so much. We can only control what we can control.
“We need to make sure we’re prepared and ready.”