Steve Bruce reveals his anguish at Matt Ritchie absence – but feared two-month lay off would be MUCH worse

“If they were all like Matt Ritchie, then my job would be easy.”

Friday, 30th August 2019, 5:00 pm
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28: Matt Ritchie of Newcastle United walks off injured during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Newcastle United and Leicester City at St James' Park on August 28, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Steve Bruce knows Matt Ritchie will be a massive miss for Newcastle United as the manager looks to turn around a run of three losses out of four at the start of his Magpies tenure.

Ritchie is set to be sidelined for around eight weeks with an ankle ligament injury suffered in the League Cup loss to Leicester City on Wednesday.

And Bruce has revealed his, and the player’s anger, at what was an utterly avoidable injury – had Hamza Choudhary not been needlessly reckless.

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“Angry, frustrated, disappointed, whatever you want to call it,” he said.

“But he's a great character, Matt, and he'll get over it, and I'm sure when he gets over the next few days, he'll get to work and get himself back.

“He's a great pro, the lad's a great pro. If they were all like Matt Ritchie, then my job would be easy. He loves the game, loves to play, loves to get out there. That's the way it is.

“It's always a risk (playing him), but it could have happened to anybody, of course. It's one of those horror tackles, as I said.

“The baffling thing for me, and I understand that the boy has apologised – but the disappointing thing for me is the referee is five yards away from it.

“These tackles are the ones that damage you. Let's hope the young lad learns from it because he's a good player, the kid.

“But obviously, it doesn't help us and Matt in particular, who's going to miss at least a couple of months.”

Bruce is expected to ring the changes again – and he’s expecting a tough game, despite Watford’s tricky start.

“In the last 48 hours, we have concentrated on Watford and they've got a very, very good team,” said Bruce.

“They've had a disappointing start, but then again, anybody can lose three games in the Premier League.

“If we can get a positive result, if we can manage to win it to get to six points after four games, it would be a terrific start from us, and let's hope we can achieve it.”