Matt Ritchie started his first game in more than four months against Rochdale, and he quickly showed us what we’d been missing.
The Magpies raced into a 3-0 lead before half time, with the returning man setting up the first two goals.
His cross was heading towards Joelinton before the Rochdale defender put it into his own net, then an even more accurate ball was taken down by Matty Longstaff who netted his third of the season.
Ritchie’s quality from out wide was there for all to see, and it’s something that could help one of Newcastle’s struggling strikers – Andy Carroll.
While he’s played well at times, Carroll is yet to reopen his account in black and white. He came close against Rochdale, hitting the woodwork.
But with Ritchie back, Carroll should be able to look forward to more quality balls coming into the box. That’s something we’ve missed during his absence.
Jetro Willems is capable of a wicked cross, but often takes too long to deliver it, or picks a simpler option. But Ritchie is old school. He gets it out of his feet early and whips it into the mixer with purpose. This is exactly what Carroll thrives on.
During the big man’s first spell at Newcastle, a lot of his goals came from quality delivery from Joey Barton. Ritchie can play the same role, and hopefully his service and help Carroll get amongst the goals once again.