MATT RITCHIE admits he was involved in a training-ground altercation with Newcastle United skipper Jamaal Lascelles – but insists the pair were laughing and joking about it 20 minutes after it happened.

Ritchie clashed with his Magpies team-mate in the week preceding Newcastle’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea, and news of the incident overshadowed the build-up to the fixture.

Ritchie feels the row was blown out of all proportion, but accepts he overstepped the mark when his altercation with Lascelles became physical.

Nevertheless, the Scotsman is adamant he is not going to tone down his spiky character, or reduce the demands he levels at his team-mates during each and every training session.

“We had a difference of opinion and a discussion about it – a lively discussion,” said Ritchie. “Jamaal and I are two of the more vocal characters, very similar in the way we train and conduct ourselves.

“It was something which got over-heated, but it was nothing personal and, 20 minutes later, everything was fine.

“Yes, I can be angry. But we’re all different characters, and I’m just passionate about winning. Like everyone else, I can wake up on the wrong side of the bed and I’m an angry little Scotsman, but some days, I want a laugh and a joke.”

Ritchie freely admits he can rub people up the wrong way, but the 29-year-old insists he has been the same throughout a career that began as a trainee with Portsmouth more than a decade ago.

His fierce will to win was one of the main reasons Rafael Benitez signed him in the wake of Newcastle’s relegation to the Championship, and while he was linked with a move away from St James’ Park this summer, he remains one of the most influential members of the Magpies squad.

“The lads know me,” he said. “I’ve been the same player since day one. Jonjo Shelvey will say to me, ‘Matty, please, just for today will you not shout?’ I’ll try it for ten minutes, but more often than not, I’ll fail.

“Sometimes, they just ignore me and are thinking, ‘Just shut up’, but it doesn’t stop me because it makes me demand levels from myself.

“I’ve always been loud, always been vocal. It’s just my personality and I’ve never been one to shy away from voicing an opinion.

“I like to think I’m honest and open with those around me, and if you are demanding the highest standards from team-mates, your own standards have to be right up there as well.”

Newcastle could do with Ritchie performing at his best this afternoon as they travel to Crystal Palace still searching for their first win of the season.

“It’s been a tough start for us,” said the winger. “We’ve struggled to pick up points and while performances have been decent, that’s not good. We’re well aware we need to get that first win under our belts, but there’s no alarm, no panic.”