Ben Arfa may get all-clear
NEWCASTLE could be boosted by the news that Hatem Ben Arfa's ankle injury isn't as bad as first feared. Ben Arfa was stretchered off during the first-half of Newcastle's 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night after a challenge with Roger Espinoza. The midfielder was immediately taken for x-rays on his left ankle, before the club announced he would fly back to Tyneside and miss the remainder of the club's pre-season tour of America. Initial fears suggested the Frenchman might have aggravated the horrific injury he suffered last season when a challenge with Manchester City's Nigel de Jong resulted in a double leg break, which kept him out of action for ten months. But early signs suggest the injury isn't as bad as first feared and the exciting midfielder could be back in action within three weeks. The Magpies face a tense wait to discover the extent of the injury, but it would be a major boost for boss Alan Pardew, who has been impressed by the Frenchman so far during pre-season. Speaking after his side's 0-0 draw Pardew said: "Hatem is going to have a few demons from that injury he had last year. "I am hoping he's okay. We took him off as a precaution - he was a bit shocked by the challenge, I think - but we think he will be okay." The Magpies' first game of their US tour also saw debuts for summer signings Sylvain Marveaux and Demba Ba, but neither could find a breakthrough at the Livestrong Stadium. The first-team players absent from the US tour - Joey Barton, Nile Ranger and Yohan Cabaye - all featured in the Reserves 2-2 draw with Hollandia last night. Barton scored the opener, but missed a second-half penalty before Ryan Donaldson scored a late equaliser to earn a draw for Peter Beardsley's side. The trio were forced to link up with the development squad for their pre-season tour of Holland having had their applications for visas into the US rejected. Barton and Ranger were denied access because of their previous criminal convictions, while a minor issue that has since been resolved stopped Frenchman Cabaye from traveling with his new team mates. Other notable names on the Reserves team sheet were Wayne Routledge, James Perch and Xisco. Routledge's future on Tyneside appears to be up in the air, with Premier League new boys Swansea interested in signing the diminuitive winger. Barton put the Magpies ahead in the 11th minute when Cabaye won possession and gave the ball to the Liverpool-born midfielder, who finished with a low drive that took a slight deflection of a Hollandia defender before going in. The hosts drew level on 23 minutes through Paul Tesselaar's rebounded effort, before taking the lead on 36 minutes when Kalvin Robert tapped home from the far post. Barton had a great chance to grab his second - and draw Newcastle level - when he was fouled inside the box, but the midfielders spot kick rattled the left post. It looked as though the game would end in defeat for the Magpies, until Donaldson converted Joan Edmundsson's pass in the final minutes to earn a draw for Beardsley's side. Newcastle: Sodeberg; Perch (Richardson 46), Dummett, Henderson, McDermott, Routledge (Edmundsson 62), Cabaye (Sammy Ameobi 62), Joey Barton (Inman 69), Moyo, Ranger (Airey 62), Xisco (Donaldson 62). Subs not used: Grant, Zamblera, Adjei, Newton, Kadar, Folan.
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