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Ben Arfa ready for return to action
Published : 20 Sep 2011 08:05:35
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is ready to unleash his "elusive" surprise package on Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night as he pencilled in Hatem Ben Arfa to make his return to action in the Carling Cup third-round clash.
After almost 12 months on the sidelines, luckless Frenchman Ben Arfa could only manage a few minutes of the pre-season friendly at Sporting Kansas City before his latest setback, but the 24-year-old has now recovered from an ankle ligament injury and could get the nod.
Pardew said: "What's important for him is to make sure he grabs the work-rate that we have got in the team. If he grabs that, he's got a good chance of getting into this team."
He added: "He will bring a creative force to the team that is different to what we have.
"He is probably different to a lot of players in the Premier League. He's elusive on the ball."
Ben Arfa, who initially joined the Magpies on loan from Marseille in August last year, made only four senior appearances before suffering an horrific double leg fracture in a challenge by Manchester City's Nigel de Jong on October 3.
Pardew replaced Chris Hughton at the helm two months later and despite never having seen the midfielder play, completed a permanent move for him in January.
A proposed return to action at the end of last season had to be put on ice, and the setback in the United States robbed him of much of his pre-season and the opening weeks of the new campaign.
However, Pardew is confident he is now ready to make his mark, and while he does not see the French international as a solution to the vacancy which still exists after a futile seven-month search for a striker to replace Andy Carroll, he has big plans for him.
He said: "We always factored Ben Arfa in, of course. I don't think that [the addition of another striker] would have affected him. He will have that number 10 role that Demba Ba did on Saturday and did very, very well for us, so that's where he's got good competition."