Blues return excites Ritchie

Former Pompey favourite Matt Ritchie
Former Pompey favourite Matt Ritchie
Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Matt Ritchie looked ahead to his Pompey return and admitted: It will be emotional.

Ritchie spoke of his pain at his hometown club’s struggles as they battle to secure their future.

And he told of his frustrations at not being wanted at the side he always dreamed of playing for.

Ritchie will make his return to Fratton Park on September 18 in the colours of Paolo Di Canio’s Swindon.

That’s after the Gosport wideman was told he was not wanted by former Blues boss Steve Cotterill.

Ritchie was sold 18 months ago and has kick-started his career with the Robins.

After winning promotion and being named League Two’s player of the year, the 22-year-old’s now gearing up for a comeback to his former club he never saw coming.

‘It will be a bit strange, but exciting as well,’ said Ritchie.

‘There’s been a lot going on at the club and it has not been good to read or see.

‘I’d obviously prefer them not to be in this league, but it will be a good occasion for me. Hopefully I can enjoy it.

‘I thought if I was going to cross Pompey again I’d have to work my way back up the leagues.

‘I thought I’d have to get into the Championship with Swindon or maybe even get another move for it to happen.

‘It was successful at Swindon last season.

‘It’s disappointing to come up against Pompey so soon but it’s something I will enjoy when it comes around – and it will be an emotional occasion.’

Ritchie was restricted to just 10 senior appearances in his time at Pompey.

He is certain of a warm reception when he makes is return – although he stated he was unsure what reaction fans would have for him.

Ritchie admitted it was tough to move on from the club he loves, even if he has enjoyed plenty of success since leaving.

He said: ‘I’m not sure what reception I’ll get when I come back.

‘I didn’t play a massive part but was involved a lot more towards the end of my time at the club.

‘I felt when I did play I did okay, but maybe didn’t get the chances I maybe should have.

‘I always felt I’d be the first one out if someone came in, so it was hard.

‘If I got a chance it was because no-one else was there, but I felt I deserved a chance anyway.

‘But I’ve still got a lot to thank Steve Cotterill for.

‘If the gaffer didn’t fancy me he didn’t fancy me, but I’ve moved on and can hopefully better myself and have a good career.

‘It was sad to leave at the time and I did find it very hard.

‘But it’s obviously worked out okay for me because I’m at a good club with good players and a good manager.’