Steve Bruce and Matt Ritchie
Ritchie (right) apologised to Bruce for the training ground bust-up earlier this week

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce says he will do his “utmost” to find “the culprit” who leaked a training ground row with Matt Ritchie to the media.

Bruce said he was “disappointed” the story had been leaked and “caused a frenzy, which we could do without”.

“The row with [Ritchie] is right, but the rest is nonsense.” he added.

Bruce said training ground rows “happen up and down the country, every other week at clubs, but it doesn’t get out”.

He added: “Unfortunately, the journalist has a source in and around the club who feeds him. It’s disappointing and we are looking to try and find the culprit.”

On the row with Ritchie, he said: “You are dealing with 25 men, emotions run high, it’s highly competitive and these things happen, but unfortunately when it’s Newcastle, it gets blown up out of all proportion.”

Bruce has been under fire from fans this season for perceived negative tactics, and performances which leave them one place and three points above the relegation zone before a trip to second-bottom West Brom on Sunday.

After dealing with outbreaks of coronavirus in the squad and losing top scorer Callum Wilson to injury, forwards Miguel Almiron and Allan-Saint Maximin are out until April after they were both injured in the 1-1 draw with Wolves.

That game was also the source of the row with Ritchie, who Bruce said had not passed on a message about a change of positions to Jacob Murphy, which led to Wolves’ equaliser.

Bruce said: “I was asked about it after the game and I tried to be truthful. In hindsight, maybe I could have been better in the post-match interview.”

Bruce also said it was “totally disgusting” that he was considered a source for a newspaper saying goalkeeper Karl Darlow was to be dropped.

“I would resign tomorrow,” he said. “It’s not true and not fair on Karl. It’s the most difficult decision I’ve made in the last 18 months.”

Asked if he felt like walking away given recent events, he added: “Oh, definitely not. Not at all.

“More than ever, 100%, I’ll try and get us out of the trouble we’re in. And more importantly, I think the players are too. I’ve got 100% faith in them.”

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