PETER Lovenkrands is confident Newcastle United can build on last year’s first campaign back in the Premier League – with the help of Hatem Ben Arfa.
Newcastle failed to sign a No9 in this summer’s transfer window, leaving manager Alan Pardew short on options up front.
And it also angered fans given that the club banked £35m from the sale of striker Andy Carroll to Liverpool in January.
But Ben Arfa – who missed the bulk of last season after suffering a horrific double leg break – is closing in on a return from the ankle problem he suffered in July.
And the 24-year-old’s as at home playing off a main striker as on the wing, where he showed glimpses of his talent before a crude challenge from Manchester City’s Nigel De Jong ended his campaign last October.
The enigmatic Ben Arfa has been pencilled in for a comeback in the Carling Cup tie away to Nottingham Forest in on September 20.
And whatever the frustrations of the summer’s transfer window, Lovenkrands believes Newcastle can improve on last season’s 12th-placed finish in their first campaign back in the Premier League.
“I think we did better than we expected last year,” Lovenkrands said.
“Of course, Ben Arfa was injured last year. Hopefully, we can have him back and he can do a wee bit for us.”
SEE Saturday’s Mail for full story