Newcastle United U21s 2, Norwich City U21s 0
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City's England international John Ruddy made his long-awaited injury comeback with a 90-minute outing in the Canaries' 2-0 development league defeat on Monday in the north-east.
Ruddy had not featured for the club in competitive action since damaging his thigh at Everton in the 1-1 Premier League draw on November 24. The 26-year-old underwent surgery before Christmas, but re-joined full training towards the end of last month ahead of potentially featuring for Chris Hughton's squad over the Premier League run-in.
Ruddy's return is a boost after fellow keeper Mark Bunn suffered a suspected groin injury in the early stages of Saturday's 2-2 top flight home draw against Swansea which will be assessed over the next few days by City's medical staff ahead of the weekend Premier League trip to Arsenal.
Ruddy was beaten by goals in either half from Brandon Miele and Michael Richardson as Scott Marshall's squad endured another setback in their bid to reach the end-of-season play-offs following last week's Colney defeat to Reading's U21s.
The likes of Jacob and Josh Murphy were not involved at Whitley Park with the club's U18s preparing for a midweek FA Youth Cup semi-final, first leg tie against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
Steven Logan fired well over the bar before Ruddy gathered Lubo Satka's header in a confident start for Peter Beardsley's Magpies. Miele opened the scoring just past the half-hour mark when he exchanged passes with Alex Gilliead to calmly round Ruddy. Jamar Loza tested Jak Alnwick from 10 yards out before Michael Clunan fired at the home keeper on the restart as City looked to get back on level terms. Richardson doubled Newcastle's lead in the 55th minute with his second goal in three games since returning from a Gillingham loan spell when he poked underneath Ruddy. Gilliead spurned a chance to put Newcastle further in front in the closing stages before Miele dragged his shot the wrong side of the near post.
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• Newcastle United U21s: Alnwick, Nicholson, Moyo, Logan, Satka, Good (Mbabu 43), Aarons (Quinn 46), Miele, Gilliead, Richardson, Amalfitano. Subs (not used): Mitchell, Kitchen, Desmond.
• Goals: Miele (36), Richardson (55)
• Norwich City U21s: Ruddy, Carrroll, McNeil, Clunan, Sheriff, Gafaiti, Hodd, Durojaiye, Loza, Heath (St Louis 68), Browne. Subs (not used): Efete, Steer, Simpson, Fox.
• Attendance: 122