Matt Ritchie is the most ‘underrated’ member of Newcastle United’s squad – according to team-mate Isaac Hayden.
Hayden and Ritchie both joined the Magpies in the summer of 2016, and helped the club earn an instant return to the Premier League as Championship winners.
The pair continue to be first-team regulars under Steve Bruce, and both signed new long-term deals last year.
As part of the club’s ‘Zoom Army’ feature ahead of the home draw with Liverpool, Hayden was labelled ‘underrated’ by a supporter and was asked which of his team-mates also deserves the same tag.
The 25-year-old was quick to namecheck Ritchie, insisting he quickly lived up to the lofty expectations that accompanied his arrival almost five years ago.
The former Bournemouth winger made an immediate impact – netting 16 times in the promotion-winning campaign – and the 31-year-old has comeback from several recent injuries to maintain his starting spot under Bruce in the last two seasons.
Hayden believes his team-mate is someone that consistently delivers at ‘difficult times’ for United, and whose work-rate for the side can never be questioned.
Hayden said: “I don’t think he gets as much credit as he should do. Simply because of what he’s done for the football club.
“He came in for quite a large fee and there was quite a lot of expectation on him when he first came in the Championship.
“He produced a fantastic season. Whenever he’s fit, he plays most games and he always gives 110%. He produces moments at difficult times and I think with Matt, you can rely on him at the most difficult times.
“You know what you’re going to get, and I think that’s massive in a player. Sometimes a lot of people don’t think about it, and at times when you need a performance he always produces. For me, as a fellow player, it gives you confidence.”