The 33-year-old has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign and may yet have kicked his last ball for the Magpies. Ritchie arrived from AFC Bournemouth in 2016 and has always been a fan favourite.
Ritchie suffered a knee injury in training but Howe can’t fault the player’s attitude – especially after he was restricted to just a handful of cameo appearances.
Howe said: “I think Matty still has a very strong desire to play. I see that with how he trains. He is very positive, he is high energy. Matty has a lot of energy to give.
“He has controlled himself and that energy brilliantly this year. He has trained harder than any other player, because the expression of his energy has been in training as he has not played regularly for us.
“I have said many times he is hugely important behind the scenes. He is a really good role model for the youngsters, how to conduct yourself and how to act.
“He’s used his leadership really effectively. I would love him to continue his journey with Newcastle next year but there will be conversations to take place before that happens.”
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