Newcastle boss Steve Bruce described Hamza Choudhury’s tackle on Matt Ritchie as a “horror challenge” so was Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers right to defend him? The 21-year-old midfielder, who penned a new four-year contract at the King Power Stadium on Friday having forced his way into Rodgers’ plans, had Bruce up in arms during the Carabao Cup clash at St James’ Park.
Choudhury’s challenge left Newcastle winger Ritchie sidelined until October with ankle ligament damage and he also needed stitches.
Bruce said: “He went over the ball, which makes it so dangerous. “If Matty hadn’t seen it coming and taken his leg away he could have been in serious trouble. He could have been out for eight months, it could have been career ending. If his leg had been planted on the floor, he was in serious trouble. Instead he rode it a little but it was a horror challenge.”
To make matters worse for Bruce, Choudhury was only yellow-carded for the offence on Ritchie as Leicester eventually won the cup tie on penalties.
But it’s not the first time the young prospect has been in trouble for a dangerous tackle, having been sent off for a nasty foul on France’s Jonathan Bamba on England Under-21 duty in June.
This latest episode handed an opportunity for Rodgers to try and rein in Choudhury’s over exuberance when going into challenges.
Instead, the Northern Irishman, who withdrew him shortly after the tackle, took the approach to back his starlet and gave him the benefit of the doubt.
He said: “It was a strong challenge. He went in with the intent to win the ball, which was clear, and then maybe just on the follow-through has just slightly injured Ritchie. “He wouldn’t go in on purpose. He’s a very strong player, a very honest player and we don’t ever want to lose that from him. He understands it’s a part of the game he needs to focus on.”
It’s understandable that Rodgers took that approach when discussing Choudhury in the public domain.
But the hope is he had a few words behind closed doors to ensure there are no more victims of his tenacious tackling further down the line.