Steve Bruce reacts to new Matt Ritchie claim at Newcastle United

Steve Bruce has reacted to a fresh claim about Matt Ritchie at relegation-threatened Newcastle United.

Bruce had a training ground row with Ritchie earlier this month in the wake of his comments after the club’s 1-1 home draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

United's head coach spoke about the incident at length in an extraordinary press conference. Bruce revealed that Ritchie had apologised to him – and insisted that they had “moved on”.

The Daily Mail this week claimed that Ritchie refused a club request to speak to rights-holding broadcasters following the confrontation. The club, according to the report, wanted Bruce and Ritchie to show a “united front”.

Bruce, under intense pressure following a run of two wins from 19 games in all competitions, was asked about the claim ahead of tonight’s Premier League game against Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.

"Well, I don't believe the story’s true,” said Bruce. “But you can make your own mind up on that, and is that a story?

“I have said repeatedly, if I’m going to have a row, it's going to be reported every two or three days. Up and down the country, we all have rows. I’m sure you have a row at work now and again, don’t you?

"I'm sure you do. You can laugh and smile, it’s absolute nonsense. The story’s nonsense. But, unfortunately, he (journalist Craig Hope) will not let it go.”

Matt Ritchie is given instructions before coming on from Graeme Jones as Steve Bruce looks on during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Ritchie – who saw a proposed return to former club Bournemouth fall through in January – has not featured for Newcastle since the Wolves game. The 31-year-old is under contract at United until 2023.

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