Bruce hints he may pick Newcastle player in his 'best position' for the first time

Steve Bruce manager of Newcastle United during the FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between Oxford United and Newcastle United at Kassam Stadium on February 04, 2020 in Oxford, England.

Newcastle United have a decision to make over Matt Ritchie's position.

Steve Bruce manager of Newcastle United during the FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between Oxford United and Newcastle United at Kassam Stadium on February 04, 2020 in Oxford, England.

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce has told The Chronicle that he thinks Matt Ritchie's best position is further forward, rather than as a left wing back.

The Magpies travel to take on Arsenal in the Premier League today, and will be hoping to spring something of a surprise on the Gunners.

Bruce will have some injury woes to deal with, but he also faces a big decision at the left wing back spot in his 5-4-1 setup.

 

Jetro Willems spent most of the campaign there before suffering a season-ending injury in January, just as Matt Ritchie was making his return from a four-month lay-off.

Ritchie has started the last two Premier League games for Newcastle, but he saw the Magpies bring in Danny Rose from Tottenham Hotspur in January.

Rose will certainly be viewed as a left wing back in Willems' absence, meaning Ritchie's position is under threat, with his versatility potentially a positive here.

Matt Ritchie of Newcastle United during the FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between Oxford United and Newcastle United at Kassam Stadium on February 4, 2020 in Oxford, England.

Ritchie is naturally a winger, but dropped back to wing back under Rafael Benitez, and may find it difficult to get back up to that end of the pitch given that Newcastle have Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron starting out wide.

Bruce has now admitted that Ritchie's 'best position' is in a more advanced role despite never playing him there so far, and feels that he can play on either flank, meaning we may yet see the 30-year-old moved in order to accommodate Rose.

“Yes, that is his best position,” said Bruce. “He plays on both sides. He played on the right a lot when Newcastle went up because he checks back on his left and has wonderful inswinging delivery. I’ve got a lot of food for thought,” he added.

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce celebrates with Matt Ritchie after the Premier League match between Everton FC and Newcastle United at Goodison Park on January 21, 2020 in Liverpool,...

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