Newcastle boss Eddie Howe reveals latest thoughts on former Portsmouth and Bournemouth favourite Matt Ritchie's future

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Eddie Howe has admitted he’d love to keep Matt Ritchie at Newcastle.

However, the Toon boss conceded the former Pompey favourite’s ‘strong desire to play’ could prove a stumbling block.

Gosport-born Ritchie is out of contract at St James’ Park at the end of the season.

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The 33-year-old has made 198 appearances for the Champions League-chasing Premier League side since his £12m move from Bournemouth in 2016.

However, the left-sided midfielder has featured just seven times in the league for Newcastle this term. Meanwhile, his 2022-23 campaign has been cut short after he picked up a knee injury in training in the build-up to the recent defeat to Arsenal.

It means Ritchie’s cameo appearance as an 89th-minute substitute against Southampton on April 30 could well be his final appearance in the famous black and whited striped shirt.

Howe admitted that will depend on how talks go once the Toon’s season concludes on May 28, with the Blues academy product’s experience and conduct behind the scenes highly valued at St James’ Park. And whether Ritchie wants to extend a playing career that already spans 15 seasons.

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Howe told the ‘I think Matty still has a very strong desire to play. I see that with how he trains. He is very positive, he is high energy. Matty has a lot of energy to give.

Matt Ritchie, right, with Toon boss Eddie Howe   Picture: Michael Regan/Getty ImagesMatt Ritchie, right, with Toon boss Eddie Howe   Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Matt Ritchie, right, with Toon boss Eddie Howe Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images

‘He has controlled himself and that energy brilliantly this year. He has trained harder than any other player, because the expression of his energy has been in training as he has not played regularly for us.

‘I have said many times he is hugely important behind the scenes. He is a really good role model for the youngsters, how to conduct yourself and how to act.

‘He's used his leadership really effectively. I would love him to continue his journey with Newcastle next year but there will be conversations to take place before that happens.’

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Pompey fans would love to see Ritchie return to Fratton Park after more than 12 years away from the club.

Former Blues boss Danny Cowley told The News in November 2022 that he believed the 33-year-old would finish his career at PO4.