Hatem Ben Arfa touch and go for Newcastle v Spurs match

Hatem Ben Arfa
Hatem Ben Arfa

HATEM Ben Arfa is touch and go for Newcastle United’s season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur.

The forward only reported back for pre-season training late last week.

United manager Alan Pardew admits the 25-year-old – who is unlikely to be involved against Den Haag this afternoon – is behind in his fitness.

While Pardew’s confident he’ll close to fitness the start of the campaign, the Spurs game on August 18 could come too soon for him.

“I think Ben Arfa’s behind the lads – there’s no doubt about that,” Pardew said.

“He’s behind the group in terms of where they are.

“He’s had to have this rest. My gut feeling is that the start of the season’s going to be a push for him. Certainly, in that first week, he’ll play.

“It’s just a question of balancing the squad up, really, and making sure we’re strong in all three games.

“Obviously, he’s fit, because he played in the Euro championships only three or four weeks ago.

“He’s had some rest, but we’re together – tight – at the moment and we need to bring him in.

“We’ve got two weeks to do that and it’ll be about how he reacts to those two weeks of work that determines whether he starts at Spurs.

“He obviously had a great season for us last year and I’m sure he’ll want to play.”