Steve Bruce reveals Matt Ritchie's reaction to being dropped

Steve Bruce has opened up on his decision to leave Matt Ritchie out of his starting XI.

Saturday, 22nd February 2020, 8:20 am

Ritchie came off the bench in last weekend’s 4-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

The 30-year-old winger – who is understood to have agreed a new deal at St James’s Park along with midfielder Jonjo Shelvey – had made way for loan signing Danny Rose, who was fielded at left wing-back by Bruce.

“If anyone epitomises the player that I enjoy and I like, it's Matt Ritchie,” said Bruce, speaking ahead of this afternoon’s Premier League game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. “Who wouldn't? But you make a call,and ultimately when you get beat the way we did, you have to take it on the chin.

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Matt Ritchie. (Pic: Martin Swinney)

“But it was very difficult, because he's everything I like: a terrific pro, a good lad.”

Asked if Ritchie had been to see him in his office, Bruce said: “Yeah, more than once, and he's entitled to. Absolutely.

“If he wants to have a kick at me as well, not a problem. I understand it totally. Totally.

“I would rather have it that way than people accept it, that's for sure, and it would have been easy to leave him in. He's still got a big part to play. He's still a part of the club, and it was a difficult decision.”

Ritchie, signed from Bournemouth in 2016, is under contract at United until the end of next season.