Matt Ritchie has been declared fit for selection for Newcastle’s season-opening game at St James’ Park on Sunday, according to the Northern Echo, giving Steve Bruce an early selection headache.

When the combative winger-cum-wing-back limped off early in the friendly against Hibernian with a hamstring injury, everyone feared the worst, with the initial prognosis not sounding promising.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

But after a scan, it seemed the injury was not as bad as first thought, and that has been proved right with the player passed to play on Sunday, if selected.

But with new signing Allan Saint-Maximin champing at the bit to play, and Jetro Willems a more than capable wing-back option, there is no need to rush Ritchie into the fray.

In fact, if the new signings strike up a good understanding early in the season, a spot on the bench could be something Ritchie will have to get used to this season.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United)

In the past, Ritchie has only really had to fend off a challenge from Christian Atsu, and that was not much of a contest, in fairness.

 

But now, with real competition for places, Ritchie could find he is used more sparingly this time round, and whether he will be happy with that, remains to be seen.

Jetro Willems could start in the left wing-back role against Arsenal

For the game against Arsenal, however, both Ritchie and Saint-Maximin may miss out on starting, with Bruce likely to adopt a more cautious approach against a strong Arsenal attack.

It would not be a surprise if he went for three centre-backs, and uses the option of Willems as left wing-back, in order to rely on his better defensive qualities.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United)

It would leave Bruce with the option of bringing Ritchie and Saint-Maximin on in the second half, to influence a game that we will, hopefully, still be in.

These are the types of selection problems a head coach wants and hopes for, and it is great news that Ritchie can be part of the weekend after all.

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