Ben Arfa hands Newcastle United a fitness boost

FITNESS HOPE ... Hatem Ben Arfa.
FITNESS HOPE ... Hatem Ben Arfa.

HATEM Ben Arfa could be back for Newcastle United’s visit to Craven Cottage.

Ben Arfa’s sat out the club’s last three games with a hamstring problem.

And manager Alan Pardew is desperate to have the forward’s pace and vision back in his team.

But he’s been ruled out of Thursday night’s Europa League fixture at Bordeaux, where Pardew will field a significantly-changed team with the club already assured of a place in the competition’s Round of 32.

Instead, the 25-year-old – who has scored two Premier League goals this season – could make his comeback against Fulham on Monday.

“He won’t have a chance for Bordeaux, but we think he’ll have a chance for Fulham,” Pardew told the Gazette.

Ben Arfa’s shown a level of consistency that few of his team-mates have matched so far this season.

And return of the Frenchman – who suffered the injury in last month’s 1-1 Europa League draw against Maritimo at St James’s Park – will be a significant lift for Pardew, whose squad has been decimated by injuries this term.

Pardew also hopes to have winger Gabriel Obertan back for Newcastle’s trip to Craven Cottage, where they were convincingly beaten 5-2 last season.

Ben Arfa scored a stunning late consolation goal for United that afternoon.

While Obertan, signed from Manchester United last year, is still to win over many Newcastle fans, Pardew’s desperate to have more pace available to him, and the 23-year-old is one of the quickest players in the squad.

“We think Obertan might have a chance for Fulham too,” added Pardew.