Newcastle Utd glad to have Ben Arfa back

Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa.
Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa.

HATEM Ben Arfa wows his Newcastle United team-mates on the training pitch – and the forward has been backed to again have the club’s fans on their feet.

Ben Arfa made his first appearance of pre-season in Tuesday night’s 5-1 win over Hartlepool United.

The 25-year-old came off the bench for the second half, and was lively in attack despite being short of match fitness.

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United manager Alan Pardew has admitted Ben Arfa – who was outstanding in the latter part of last season – is playing catch up after reporting back for training later than his colleagues.

However, the France international’s confident he’ll be ready for the first game of the season – against Tottenham Hotspur on August 18 – and Pardew was heartened by what he saw at Victoria Park.

“Obviously, he’s going to have a big, big season for us,” said Pardew.

“We hope he does, but I’ve got to manage him. I’ve got to choose the right games for him. He can’t play every game – none of our players can, even (Fabricio) Coloccini or Tim (Krul).”

After a frustrating months on the fringes of Pardew’s Newcastle team last term, Ben Arfa came into his own in the final few months of the campaign.

Ben Arfa, labelled a “one-off” by Pardew, didn’t just excite United’s supporters, he also impressed his team-mates.

And the sooner he’s fully back up to speed, the better for Pardew.

“Obviously, he’s got qualities than even our own players stand and applaud,” added Pardew.

“He takes corners with the outside of his foot, and stuff like that. He’s complete one-off, and it was nice to see him get involved (against Hartlepool).”