Matt Ritchie started his first game since August 28th last night against Rochdale, and it was like he’d never been away.

The 30-year-old came off the bench in the first game against the League One side, but finally made his long awaited return to the starting XI in the replay.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

And it was a typical Ritchie performance. He hasn’t lost his infectious energy, and he provided quality on the ball in key moments.

His cross led to the opening goal, then he set up Matty Longstaff for the second. The assists served as a reminder to everyone of what Ritchie is capable of, as Jetro Willems has become a bit of a fan favourite in his absence.

While he doesn’t play the same way, the Dutchman’s technical ability on the ball has made him a huge hit at St James’ Park.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Ritchie is going to have a hard job getting back into the Premier League team, but last night’s performance will have given Steve Bruce something to think about. He now has two top players gunning for the same position.

Regardless, having Ritchie back in the fold is a huge boost. We’ve missed his energy at times, and he could be a big player for us in the second half of the season.

Ritchie impresses fans on his St James’ Park return

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