HATEM Ben Arfa has joined Newcastle United’s lengthening injury list – but boss Alan Pardew is hopeful it won’t be for long.
Ben Arfa suffered a hamstring problem in last night’s 1-1 Europa League draw against Maritimo at St James’s Park.
And the injury will keep the forward out of Sunday’s Premier League visit to Southampton.
Striker Papiss Demba Cisse is also rated as doubtful after suffering a thigh problem in the game, which saw the club qualify for the competition’s Round of 32.
Ben Arfa – Newcastle’s main attacking threat in the Premier League this season – was handed his first European start by Pardew, who had previously been reluctant previously to risk him in the competition after he served a three-game ban dating back to his time at Olympique Marseille.
But he was forced off late in the first half after setting up Sylvain Marveaux’s 23rd-minute goal.
Pardew, however, is hopeful Ben Arfa isn’t facing an extended spell on the sidelines.
“It’s a hamstring problem, so it’ll definitely keep him out on Sunday, and probably next week,” admitted Pardew, whose side face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on November 28.
“I don’t know from then on. I don’t think it’s a tear, according to the doctor, so it’s not a long injury, but it’ll certainly keep him out for the immediate future.”
Asked if he thought long and hard about playing Ben Arfa given his importance to the club’s domestic campaign, Pardew said: “No – I needed to get a result.
“We wanted to see him in that behind-the-striker role, and I thought he made some nice moments there.
“It was just shame. Unfortunately, this is what the competition can do.”
Cisse was withdrawn early in the second half and replaced by Romain Amalfitano, and the 27-year-old limped out of St James’s Park.
Pardew went on: “He got a kick on the thigh.
“He was starting to limp with it, because it tightened up over half-time, so unfortunately I had to take him off when I didn’t really want to.”
Another of Pardew’s striker’s, Shola Ameobi, has as groin problem.
“Shola looks doubtful for the next couple of weeks,” added Pardew, who has lost influential midfielder Yohan Cabaye until the New Year.