Mystery of Hatem Ben Arfa’s hamstring injury

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.