Alan Hutton has suggested that Matt Ritchie may have felt he had more to offer Scotland, following reports that the Newcastle United midfielder has called time on his international career.
Scotland boss Steve Clarke is thought to have approached the 30-year-old over a return to the international fold, but Ritchie informed him that he wishes to use the break as a rare chance to spend consecutive days with his family.
Ritchie’s family still live in Hampshire, while he also wants to prioritise his fitness and availability for the Toon as he battles back from the ankle injury sustained against Leicester City in the Carabao Cup.
The blow has meant Ritchie has made just four appearances across all competitions this season, each coming in August.
The Gosport-born winger rarely featured on the international scene before informing former Scotland boss Alex McLeish that he would not be available for selection last year.
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Now calling time on his Scotland days for good, Hutton has suggested Ritchie potentially felt unloved in the national side as the player-turned-pundit gave an honest verdict of the 16-cap midfielder’s decision to Football Insider.
“I’ve obviously played alongside him, I think he’s a fantastic player,” said Hutton. “So much energy, willing runner, run through a brick wall for you and quality so I know what he can give.
“He obviously feels he’s a bit unloved when he goes up there, he doesn’t play all the time. Maybe he feels he can offer more but he feels he’s not getting the chance.
“When you get to a certain age, then you start thinking: ‘What am I going to put forward? I’ve got my family here, I’ve got Scotland there, I’m not really playing there so I’d rather use the days for X, Y and Z.’
“I did the same thing so I’m not going to sit here and say he made the wrong decision but I think when you start to get to that age, that’s the way you start thinking.”
Ritchie has entered the final 18 months of his Newcastle contract, and talks over an extension are said to have cooled alongside his injury, leading to slight doubt over whether his future remains on Tyneside.