Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Injury Glitches Abated by Ben Arfa's Progress; Ben Arfa Almost Back to His Best

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Injury Glitches Abated by Ben Arfa's Progress; Ben Arfa Almost Back to His Best

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Brown

ALAN Pardew insists the blows inflicted on Newcastle by the absence of Cheick Tiote and the imminent surgery required by Sylvain Marveaux have been softened by signs that Hatem Ben Arfa is approaching his best.

And as the Frenchman prepares to return to the scene of his double leg break for the first time, and with the player responsible - Nigel de Jong - seeking a reconciliation, Pardew is confident his player is carrying no mental hangover from the incident.

United travel to the Etihad Stadium tomorrow without Tiote, who is still out with a knee injury, and with Marveaux facing a groin operation next week which is likely to sideline him on a long-term basis.

However, 13 months after de Jong's horror tackle, Pardew believes Ben Arfa is close to being back to his best, and with the Dutchman having sent a written apology to the Newcastle star, the pair are expected to shake hands over the matter after tomorrow's game.

Asked how Ben Arfa is ahead of his return to the ground where he suffered a broken tibia and fibula, Pardew said: "Good, I had a little chat with him on Thursday morning and I thought it would be wise to just check that he's OK.

"He's trained very well and he assures me there will be absolutely no problem.

"When you train with Cheick Tiote, you are going to get clattered now and again so he has had a couple of Cheick tackles and seems to have come through them all right.

"I think he is a player who only now is getting near his best because, even in training, he has been good and then two or three days later, not really been at the same pace as the other players. "But he has been a lot better recently, more up to speed. "The first few weeks, I just let him get on with it. We are quite disciplined on the training field. We want our players to have energy and work really hard. "We have had to let Hatem find his feet and I think that is only right. When you get long-term injuries I think that is the best way to be. "But he has not really caused me a problem, he has been very understanding. I do not know how long that will continue but at the moment he has been. …

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