Newcastle Utd

Newcastle's Alan Thompson in action during the Steve Harper Testimonial at St James' Park
Newcastle's Alan Thompson in action during the Steve Harper Testimonial at St James' Park

ALAN Thompson feels Newcastle United are in for a tough afternoon at Villa Park in the meeting between his former clubs.

James’s Park before moving to Bolton Wa Thompson started his playing career at St nderers.

And the retired footballer - who was back at St James’s Park for Steve Harper’s charity game on Wednesday - went on to represent today’s opponents Aston Villa.

Thompson was also a team-mate at Villa manager Paul Lambert at Celtic.

And the 44-year-old - who is taking his coaching badges - is wary of the home side, and in particular powerful striker Christian Benteke.

“It will be a tough game - Villa are a good side at home,” said Thompson.

“When the crowd get behind them, they can beat a lot of teams. Away from home, they’re good on the counter too.

“It’ll be tough for Newcastle. Benteke is in good form from last season, which he’s carried on this year.

“Newcastle will have to be on the ball and get a decent result down there.”

Boyhood United fan Thompson is keen to see the team build on its 1-0 win over Fulham a fortnight ago, when Newcastle found an attacking fluency late in the game that was rarely seen last term.

“The team is not too dissimilar to the team that did well two years ago,” he said.

“They set the standards, and hopefully they will be able to maintain them”

A crowd of more than 50,000 watched the Steve Harper 20 Years Charity Match between a United XI and AC Milan Glorie.

Thompson left St James’s Park the year - 1993 - that Harper arrived.

And he felt the game was a fitting tribute to the goalkeeper, who went on to spend two decades at United.

“It says a lot about him,” said Thompson. “To have a turn out like that is excellent.

“Milan being here is one thing, but I think a lot of people came to see Newcastle as well.

“David Ginola coming in from France and Tino Asprilla from South America that says a lot about Harps.” he fell out with during their time together at Olympique Marseille.

The 26-year-old had been a member of France’s squad for the Euro 2012 tournament.

And there is a feeling across the Channel that Ben Arfa has been overlooked when fit at least in part because of his history with Deschamps.

However, United manager Alan Pardew feels there is a way back for Ben Arfa - if he can add more consistency to his game.

Pardew said: “That’s what we are searching for with Hatem, a little bit more consistency in terms of him winning games, whether it’s an assist or a goal.

“He has fantastic quality. He is a player the fans love, and he certainly got everybody out of their seats the last time.

“But we need a little bit more than that, more from him, more of those moments.

“I think he would be the first to admit that that’s the year he needs if he is going to break into the French team.”