Hatem Ben Arfa could hold key for Newcastle says Alan Pardew
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is expecting Hatem Ben Arfa to play a crucial role for the Magpies this season.
Last Updated: 19/08/13 7:41pm
The French midfielder is in contention to start for Newcastle in their Premier League opener at Manchester City on Monday night after coming through a careful pre-season programme unscathed.
Ben Arfa's long series of injury problems began at City in October 2010 when he suffered an horrendous double leg-break in a challenge from Nigel De Jong.
And there was further frustration for the 26-year-old last season when his starts were severely restricted by a nagging hamstring complaint.
Pardew said: "Hatem is a player you need to be very careful with because of the injuries he has had, and we've nursed him through the pre-season and geared him up for the start.
"We're hoping if we can get a full season out of him then it will go hand in hand and our season will be a success."
Pardew is also looking forward to seeing Moussa Sissoko in action again after the midfielder made a major impression following his January move from Toulouse.
"It's a big season for Moussa," added Pardew. "His initial impact was fantastic and then he got a little injury but this year he's trained very well and we're hoping to have a big season from him.
"I think you can look at him and say he has all the tools to be a fantastic central midfield player. He has tremendous power and physique as well as sound technique.
"I put him in the same bracket as players like (Cheick) Tiote and (Yohan) Cabaye, and say our midfield is an area where we are very strong."