Richie ‘still available for the Scots’
RAFA Benitez has insisted that Matt Ritchie has not retired from international football with Scotland.
The Newcastle United manager is likely to pick Ritchie for the clash with his former club AFC Bournemouth this weekend.
But the 29-year-old will not link with the Scots for their UEFA Nations League games with Albania and Israel.
Benitez suggested that Alex McLeish had sanctioned Ritchie’s request for a break from the international scene.
He said: “I think he has been talking with (Scotland manager) Alex McLeish.
“He is really proud to play for his country, but he knows we need everything here at the moment.
“Hopefully he wins things for Scotland in the future, though.”
McLeish had said: “Matt wanted to be left out for the foreseeable future. It’s private. It is not something for me to discuss.
”He had injury issues as well, and again, there is management of his injuries.”
Ritchie joined Newcastle for £12m in July 2016, and has become a major part of Benitez’s side.
Many people questioned his decision to drop down a division, at the time of signing Newcastle were in the Championship, but speaking to the Chronicle, the winger said he has no regrets leaving Bournemouth.
“It certainly doesn’t frustrate me to see them doing better than us at this time. Far from it, in fact,”
Ritchie replied when asked about his former club Bournemouth’s success, given that the Cherries are currently sixth in the Premier League while Newcastle languish in 17th.
“The way they’ve started the season really pleases me. I couldn’t be happier for them. To see so many people I left behind doing well, that’s great.
“It was my decision to leave Bournemouth because Newcastle was the place I wanted to be – and it’s the same now.
“It’s a challenge I have relished taking on and I still am. For all the good times I had at Bournemouth, not for one moment have I regretted the move.”