Newcastle handed big lift as key midfielder returns to training

Newcastle midfielder Matt Ritchie has handed manager Rafael Benitez a major boost by resuming training ahead of Saturday’s crucial Premier League clash with Huddersfield.

Press Association Sport understands Ritchie, who withdrew from the Scotland squad through injury over the weekend, was back with the rest of the squad on Tyneside on Wednesday after being assessed by the club’s medical staff.

Ritchie played 87 minutes of Scotland’s 1-0 friendly defeat by Costa Rica on Friday evening, but headed back to the north east before Tuesday night’s 1-0 win in Hungary.

He worked alone with the Magpies’ fitness coach on Tuesday, but was given the green light to join the rest of the group on Wednesday morning.

The 28-year-old, who has scored in two of his last three games for Newcastle, including a winner against Manchester United, is a key member of Benitez’s team and his availability this weekend will delight the Spaniard.

His team currently sits in 13th place in the table on 32 points, but just four points clear of the drop zone with eight games remaining.

Victory over Huddersfield, who are two places and a single point worse off, would edge them closer to Benitez’s 40-point target for the season and significantly boost their chances of remaining in the top flight.


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