What we know about Matt Ritchie, Andros Townsend and Rafa Benitez’s winger dilemma at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez doesn’t want to sell Matt Ritchie this summer – but the winger could still be offloaded.

Ritchie has been an influential figure on the pitch since joining from Bournemouth two years ago.

Matt Ritchie (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

Matt Ritchie (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

The 28-year-old scored the goal which secured Newcastle United’s Premier League status last season.

However, Benitez – who yesterday re-signed Kenedy on loan – wants to bring Andros Townsend back to St James’s Park before the August 9 transfer deadline.

Townsend, sold to Crystal Palace two years ago, could be available for £17million.

Asked about speculation over his future, Townsend said: “We’re seasoned pros now – we’ve been in and around the game for years.

“Your name gets linked with other clubs every transfer window it seems, but you’ve just got to get on with it and just focus on what you’re doing for the club you’re contracted to until that changes.

“I’m just focused on pre-season, and am trying to get some minutes under my belt in Sweden and Denmark.”

Benitez, working with a limited transfer budget this summer, could finance a move for Towsnend by selling Ritchie, who is a target for Stoke City.

Middlesbrough and Bournemouth have also been linked with bids for the Ritchie, who scored three goals last season.

Relegated Stoke have been in contact with Newcastle over a move for Ritchie, though the club has not tabled a formal bid.

Ritchie – who would not want a substitute’s role next season – is understood to be one of new Stoke manager Gary Rowett’s top summer targets.

United would want more than £15million for the Scotland international, who is in Ireland with his team-mates for a training camp.

Newcastle open their pre-season campaign with a friendly against Dublin side St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park on July 17.

Townsend, meanwhile, left United in the wake of the club’s relegation to the Championship two years ago.

The England winger said he had to leave for the sake of his international career.

Speaking at the time, Townsend said: “First and foremost it was an extremely difficult decision to leave. I enjoyed my time at Newcastle.

“I was loved by the fans, and the manager was getting the best out of me, but at the end of the day I needed Premier League football at this stage in my career.”

Townsend didn’t make an international appearance last season.