ALAN Pardew admits that the hamstring problem which looks set to keep Hatem Ben Arfa out of tomorrow’s visit of Manchester City is something of a mystery.
The player himself – scorer of United’s goal during Monday’s 2-1 defeat at Fulham – is reporting no ill effects after what was his first game in two-and-a-half weeks.
Scan results, however, suggest otherwise and the feeling is that Ben Arfa will not be risked for the visit of the champions.
“We’ve got a strange situation with him in that he feels unrestricted, but the scan does not suggest that – we can’t afford to take a gamble with him,” Pardew explained to the Gazette.
“So my gut feeling is he won’t play.”
The news will come as a blow to Pardew and supporters who have come to rely heavily upon the mercurial Frenchman this season.
He has three goals from 14 appearances and has been the Magpies’ stand-out performer.
His absence is likely to mean a recall for either James Perch or Shola Ameobi, with Sylvain Marveaux also doubtful.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Obertan (toe) remains sidelined, but could return for the QPR game next weekend.