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Steve Bruce welcomes persistent players as Matt Ritchie looks for cup chance

Everton v Newcastle United – Premier League – Goodison Park
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce is happy to have a disgruntled Matt Ritchie knocking on his door to ask for a place in his team.

Ritchie has been a fixture for the Magpies for much of the four years since joining from Bournemouth, but has found himself sitting on the bench for the first two games of the new Premier League campaign, a 2-0 win at West Ham and a 3-0 drubbing by Brighton.

The 31-year-old midfielder, who picked up a calf problem in pre-season, is likely to figure in a much-changed line-up for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup third-round trip to League Two Morecambe, but head coach Bruce is delighted that he is frustrated.

He said: “There’s nothing better than somebody keep knocking on your door who wants to play.

“I’ve said to Matty like everybody else, his chance certainly will come with the amount of games we’ve got. With the amount of games that are piling high, then they’ll all get their chance.

“Let’s be fair now, he’s got an outstanding chance to be in and around it at the weekend after the performance last weekend.

“That’s the beauty of having a big squad and somebody like Matt Ritchie. Of course he’s going to knock at the door.”

Bruce had indicated he will make significant changes once again – only Javier Manquillo started the league opener at the London Stadium and the second-round clash with Blackburn – as he attempts to balance the demands of a busy programme ahead of Sunday’s trip to Tottenham, where places are still up for grabs.

He said: “I’ve picked a team which is big enough and strong enough and fit enough to go and make sure we get into the next round.

“It’s an opportunity for them to stamp their case for the weekend.”

Newcastle have gone 65 years without a major domestic trophy and Bruce is the latest man desperate to end that drought, although he admits he must still prioritise.

He said: “It is difficult because we all understand how valuable the Premier League is. The Carabao Cup, with all the difficulties that surround it, it’s important to me, of course it is, but it’s not a huge, huge priority.”