Rafa Benitez announced at his press conference that six players wouldn’t be involved on Friday night at Cardiff, with the likes of Dwight Gayle, Jesus Gamez, Matt Ritchie, Vurnon Anita, Jamaal Lascelles and Grant Hanley all missing.
The Manager indicating that they were all injured and/or in need of a rest.
However, it turns out that one of them couldn’t have played anyway, as he is now banned until next season.
George Caulkin of The Times summed it up as a ‘minor exclusive’ as he made the Matt Ritchie suspension public, shortly before the club made an official announcement.
The winger fined £5,000 and banned for two matches after abusing one of the match officials against Leeds.
Caulkin says that Matt Ritchie needs to rest an injury anyway but no doubt he would have been pressed into service if necessary in these final two matches, if there was no ban and points were needed.
It appears more than likely that Newcastle have ensured Ritchie was available for Preston on Monday before accepting the suspension now that there is only the title to play for…
“A minor exclusive: Matt Ritchie is actually suspended for last 2 Newcastle games this season after abusing 4th official after defeat at Ipswich.
“Incident happened in players’ tunnel after game.
“Delay in announcement partially due to (HNRC investigation) events yesterday, but Newcastle decided not to appeal.
“Confirmation from FA will come imminently.
“Doesn’t matter hugely as Ritchie has a knock which needs rest anyway.
(George adding later….) “Minor and only partially accurate – was after the Leeds game.”
Official Newcastle United Statement:
‘Matt Ritchie will serve a two-match suspension with immediate effect after he admitted an FA misconduct charge.
It was alleged the Newcastle United player used abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official in or around the tunnel area following the conclusion of the game against Leeds United on 14th April 2017.
Following the Independent Regulatory Commission hearing he was also fined £5,000.’