HATEM Ben Arfa is closing in on a comeback for Newcastle United – against Sunderland.
The forward was ruled out for the season last month.
But specialists have told the club that Ben Arfa – who has been troubled with a hamstring problem since November – does not need an operation.
The 26-year-old was put through his paces on the pitch at St James’s Park before yesterday’s dramatic 1-0 win over Fulham.
And United manager Alan Pardew has revealed he has a chance of being involved in Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby.
“What’s happened with Hatem is that the scan has shown that we’ve got some scar tissue still in the hamstring,” Pardew told SportMail.“He’s showing no ill-effects.
“We’ve sent him to three experts, mainly a French expert, who’s been looking after him. He thinks that he’s 100 per cent.
“We’re now treating him as that. He’s running. There could be a cameo as soon as Sunderland.
“He’s got a week’s work. If he gets through that work, then he could be involved.”
Ben Arfa was one of the few Newcastle players to shine in the first few months of the campaign, with his form coming on the back of a superb late-season run in Pardew’s side last term.
And Pardew can’t wait to have him back in his squad, such is his ability to win a game with a moment of brilliance.
However, having seen Ben Arfa make two abortive comebacks from the injury, suffered in a Europa League group game against Maritimo, he is erring on the side of caution.
And Ben Arfa will be asssed this week.
“It’d be a massive bonus for us, but it’s still too early to call,” added Pardew. “After the last time, we said he wouldn’t play again this seaons. Half of me thought he might.
“I just wanted to clear his mind and see how he reacted. Hopefully, we’ll get a nice bonus.”