Newcastle United have released training photos from their latest session after returning to the North East, and they include Matt Ritchie.
The last time he was named in a Newcastle squad was the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth back in September. Since then he has been out with injury, struggling with a calf problem.
Eddie Howe stated that he could be out until after the World Cup, and now he looks set to return after the competition in Qatar.
Ritchie travelled with the squad to Saudi Arabia, but did not feature in the friendly win over Al Hilal.
Next on the agenda for Newcastle is a friendly at home to Rayo Vallecano, and the players are now preparing for that game – as well as the League Cup clash with Bournemouth next week.
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And it looks like Howe will be able to select Ritchie for those games. The midfielder can be seen taking a full part in training with the rest of the team.
That will be a boost for Howe, who has been very vocal about his admiration for Ritchie. He called him ‘integral‘ last season, despite barely featuring. He’s barely featured this season too, limited to just two appearances in all competitions so far.
Injury has massively hindered him, but it now looks like he will return.
Another player spotted in training is Chris Wood. That is excellent news, as he limped off with a back problem against Al Hilal last week. But it looks like that was just a precaution, and the 31-year-old will be available for selection against Bournemouth next week.
The New Zealander should be in line to start, although there is a chance that Callum Wilson could be involved. However, it seems unlikely that another Newcastle striker will make the squad.
Ritchie is back, but no Isak spotted in Newcastle training pics
While there is good news involving Ritchie and Wood, it looks less positive for Alexander Isak.
The Swede was with the group in Riyadh, but, like Ritchie, didn’t take part in full training. But while Ritchie is now with the rest of the group following the return to Tyneside, Isak is nowhere to be seen.
The record signing has not been spotted in the club’s training snaps, which suggests he is still yet to return to full training. That is a real blow, and it is now looking increasingly unlikely that he will be fit for Tuesday night’s game against Bournemouth.
A return for Isak surely isn’t far away – hopefully he can get himself ready for the Premier League’s return on Boxing Day against Leicester.