Ritchie relishing Pompey return

Matt Ritchie, Swindon Town
Matt Ritchie, Swindon Town
Conor Chaplin. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Matt Ritchie is relishing his Fratton Park return as he bids to heap more misery on his boyhood heroes.

The midfielder came through the ranks at the Blues, making 10 appearances.

Steve Cotterill sold him to Swindon in January 2011 – a decision which still rankles with many Pompey fans today.

The Gosport youngster has gone on to bag 21 goals in 103 games for the Robins.

He was also named League Two’s player of the year as Swindon clinched the title.

Tonight he makes his first appearance at Fratton Park since his departure – and he is looking forward to the occasion.

He said: ‘I will always thank the club and everyone there at the time for what happened in my early days at Pompey.

‘Those times have played a massive part in the player I am now.

‘So for that reason I am looking forward to going back there now, although I want to come away with the three points.

‘When I was there I looked up to Matty Taylor and Gary O’Neil because they were younger lads who had broken into the team and established themselves as top players.

‘They have had some great players over the last couple of years and have had some very good teams, so they were good to go and watch and good to train with, too.

‘It was good times for me down there, but my career has moved on since then and I am a Swindon player now.’

Ritchie made his Pompey bow in April 2010 at Wigan under Avram Grant in a Premier League game.

It was also an occasion which also saw another local lad make his Blues league debut – Joel Ward.

And 23-year-old Ritchie still remembers that goalless draw with tremendous affection.

He added: ‘My debut was special even if I didn’t expect it but Pompey were in a little bit of trouble at the time.

‘Avram Grant gave a couple of us young lads a chance at Wigan and it was probably due to the fact the club was in a little bit of trouble at the time.’