Hatem Ben Arfa is fit for Fulham v Newcastle clash

Boost for Newcastle with magical Ben Arfa back for Fulham clash



22:30 GMT, 9 December 2012

Hatem Ben Arfa returns to centre stage for Newcastle United on Monday night.

The France star has missed his side’s last four matches and Pardew, who is looking to build on last week’s win over Wigan Athletic, knows his side have missed the forward’s inspiration.

Ben Arfa, who is one of four Newcastle players Pardew hopes to have back from hamstring injuries for the game at Fulham, was injured in his first Europa League match against Maritimo over a fortnight ago.

Ready to go: Hatem Ben Arfa is set to make his return to action

Ready to go: Hatem Ben Arfa is set to make his return to action

The 25-year-old had just been handed a
new central role by his manager and Pardew is ready to let him loose at
Craven Cottage tonight.

The Newcastle boss said: ‘I was very
disappointed to lose him in that Maritimo game because I wanted to get a
full 90 minutes out of him performing that role.

‘He is going to put the ball at risk
there, but on the plus side, he is also going to really increase the
flair in and around the central areas.

‘I am sure there will be games where I think it is right to put him there or even start with him there.

‘We had Hatem playing as a No 10 last
year. Mentally and physically I think he is in much better shape to play
that role now than he was back then.

‘I have not really had any significant
problems with Hatem. I think my experience of dealing with the likes of
Benayoun, Tevez, Mascherano — players who came over here in difficult
situations — has helped.

‘I am fortunate to be 52, still in the game and have that experience behind me.’

Newcastle also hope to have top scorer Demba Ba back tonight to add to his 10 goals in 16 appearances.

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