Matt Ritchie has withdrawn from the Scotland squad to face Hungary, and a potential injury has come at the worst possible time for Newcastle United.
The winger will return to the North East where he will be assessed ahead of another crucial game in the Magpies’ bid for Premier league survival, as they host fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town on Saturday afternoon.
An injury has not been confirmed for Ritchie, who played 87 minutes for Scotland on Friday night against Costa Rica, and withdrawing from national team friendlies is not uncommon when even a minor injury occurs, but it remains a cause for concern for Toon fans.
There is every chance that Ritchie withdrew from the squad as a precaution going into a crucial few months with his club side, but there is obviously a chance that the 28-year-old really is injured and could miss some action in black and white.
If our number 11 is ruled out, it comes at the worst time possible, with Ritchie currently in his best form of the season. After starring in the Championship, Ritchie has struggled at times back in the Premier League, but has been back to his best with goals against Manchester United and Southampton.
Newcastle need to have their best players firing going into the final few games of the season to ensure survival, and an injury to Ritchie could be severely damaging.
The options to replace him are Christian Atsu and Jacob Murphy, and neither have been particularly consistent with their performances this season, meaning we really do not know what we would get if Ritchie had to be replaced.
Fingers crossed Ritchie was just withdrawn as a precaution, and will be fit and firing to score in three consecutive home games as Newcastle welcome Huddersfield to St James’ Park this weekend.