Newcastle star misses vital World Cup qualifier after playing through pain barrier
The second international break of the season is now upon us – an unwelcome interruption for Newcastle fans but at least this time it is at a stage of vital games in the World Cup qualifying groups.
Matt Ritchie was ruled out with a knock after the Liverpool game, meaning he didn’t link up with Scotland, and now another Newcastle star has been ruled out of a crucial match for his country.
Christian Atsu is one of his country’s star players and was actually widely expected to captain Ghana this weekend.
However, the winger has now been forced to pull out of a pivotal game against Uganda on Saturday, a match that Ghana have to win to keep any hopes alive of qualifying for Russia next summer.
According to Goal, Christian Atsu has been playing through the pain barrier for Newcastle in recent matches due to an injury picked up for his country in the 5-1 win over Congo on 5 September.
This makes some sense now of why Atsu was surprisingly dropped to the bench when he last returned from international duty, left out of the starting line up against Swansea despite having starred in the 3-0 victory over West Ham, with Jacob Murphy replacing him.
Christian Atsu came on in the 59th minute of that Swansea match to help Newcastle to a 1-0 win and then was restored to the team and played well and scored, in the 2-1 win over Stoke.
However, in both the Brighton and Liverpool matches, Atsu has been poor, with potentially the injury he has been carrying, a major factor in that.
After being used manly as a substitute last season and starting only 15 of 46 Championship games, this time around the Ghanaian international has started six of the seven Premier League games and also came off the bench in that Swansea one.
Asamoah Gyan and Harrison Afful had already pulled out of this Ghana match and it was widely reported that Christian Atsu could get the call to step up and be captain in their absence, but he will be forced instead to watch from the sidelines.
From a Newcastle point of view, like Matt Ritchie, hopefully this international break can give them a chance to get a bit of rest and come back fighting fit for the difficult trip to Southampton on Sunday 15 October, as Newcastle look to build on that battling point against Liverpool.
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