Bruce defuses Ritchie row, vows to find Newcastle leak

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Wolverhampton Wanderers - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - February 27, 2021 Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce Pool via REUTERS/Stu Forster

(Reuters) - Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has drawn a line under this week's training ground dispute with midfielder Matt Ritchie, saying the situation has been blown out of proportion.

Daily Mail reported that the pair had clashed this week, with Ritchie having been unhappy at the way he was blamed for a breakdown in communication that led to Wolverhampton Wanderers' equaliser in last weekend's 1-1 Premier League draw.

Ritchie has since apologised for his role in the incident, and Bruce said the matter is now resolved.

"Look, there's no denying that I've had a row with Matt Ritchie, but let me tell you that happens up and down training grounds every other week," Bruce told a news conference ahead of Sunday's trip to West Bromwich Albion.

"You're dealing with 25 men, emotions run high, fiercely competitive - these things happen unfortunately, and unfortunately for us with Newcastle, of course it gets blown to all sort of proportions.

"Matty apologised. As far as we're concerned and me personally, it's over."

Prior to last weekend's game with Wolves, it was reported that Bruce had been responsible for leaking Karl Darlow's demotion in the media before the goalkeeper was told he was being dropped for Martin Dubravka.

"If I thought I would do that, I would resign tomorrow. It’s simply not true," Bruce said. "It's unfair on Karl, and over the last 18 months, that's arguably been the most difficult decision I've had to make."

Bruce said the club is trying to plug the leak at St James' Park that has been responsible for recent backpage headlines.

"It is the most disappointing thing. We are looking into it to find the culprit. At other clubs it does not happen," he added.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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