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Cherries: Ritchie happy to stay on the left
CHERRIES new boy Matt Ritchie says he would relish a licence to thrill against former club Portsmouth and has told boss Eddie Howe: “I’ll play anywhere.”
Portsmouth-born Ritchie could be in line to make his full debut for Cherries when they host their struggling League One neighbours at Dean Court tomorrow (3pm).
Winger Ritchie showed his versatility when he deputised at left-back during the second half of Cherries’ emphatic 3-0 victory at MK Dons six days ago.
Ritchie, playing in defence for the first time in two-and-a-half-years, was pivotal as Cherries ran ragged the 10-man Dons to chalk up a third successive win.
The 23-year-old, who had started on the bench following his transfer window move from Swindon, could again be asked to fill in should Charlie Daniels fail a late fitness test.
And should he get the nod, Ritchie would be hoping to heap more misery on Pompey having helped Swindon record a league double over the Fratton Park outfit this season.
Ritchie, a lifelong Pompey supporter, told the Daily Echo: “I prefer to play on the wing but the manager brought me in knowing I could play left-back in an emergency as well.
“He needed me to step in after Tommy Elphick had come off against MK Dons and it wasn’t a problem for me. I will play anywhere as long as I am on the pitch.
“When I came here with Swindon last month, I remember the full-backs got forward as much as the wide men. The conditions weren’t the best and they made it tough for us, especially in the first half. If I am asked to play there again, I would try to do the same.”
Ritchie, who joined Pompey as a six-year-old, netted in Swindon’s 2-1 win at Fratton Park in September before helping the Robins claim a 5-0 victory in the reverse fixture on New Year’s Day.
He added: “There are good people there and, hopefully, everything will be sorted out.
“As a result of what’s gone on, their team has changed all through the season. They have had a lot of loan players and I am sure it will be another changed team against us.”
Ritchie said his goal celebration in September had been “low key” and added he would again respect the Pompey faithful should he net against them for Cherries.