Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe has named his first ever Champions League squad and it threw up few surprises.
Matt Ritchie did not make the 23-man UCL squad
Javier Manquillo looked like he was on the way out of St James’ Park this summer, although Eddie Howe publicly stated he’d like to keep hold of the Spanish right-back. As much as Howe wanted him to stick around it was never about keeping him for the first team and more about keeping the depth of the squad.
Emil Krafth is still recovering from the horrible ACL injury he picked up last season and it would therefore be foolish to use up a squad place on someone who may not be fit to play.
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Ritchie may still travel with the Newcastle squad for support
The more surprising one is Matt Ritchie. The 33-year-old was retained this summer by Eddie Howe, signing an extension to his £45k-a-week contract, as he sees him as someone who is ‘important‘ to the way the team operates. It’s more of a behind the scenes thing with Ritchie, though. He’s a leader and good for morale in the dressing room.
It remains to be seen whether Ritchie will still travel with the squad to bring that morale boost along, but he will not be eligible to play in any Champions League fixtures as things stand.
In a way it’s a shame that Ritchie, who has given a lot for Newcastle United will not get to experience playing in Europe’s elite competition, but if we want to succeed in the competition we need use of our better players and unfortunately, Ritchie doesn’t fall into that bracket.