Premier League: Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew backs Hatem Ben Arfa to shine
Alan Pardew has urged Hatem Ben Arfa to provide Newcastle's creative spark after the departure of Yohan Cabaye to PSG.
Last Updated: 31/01/14 4:02pm
The French winger returned to the side for the 0-0 draw at Norwich City having found himself often used as a substitute in the preceding weeks.
However, since Cabaye's switch to the Ligue 1 champions for a reported fee of around £20million, the 26-year-old could find himself with a more prominent role at St James' Park once again.
Ben Arfa has made just 11 starts for the Toon Army this season, but Pardew was full of praise for the former Marseille star and says that there is now an opportunity to truly establish himself as an important part of the team.
"I have said to him, 'You have been waiting and you have been patient', because he has conducted himself well in and around the building and his temperament has been great," he said.
"Now his time has come and, in football, you have to take the moment when it arrives.
"It's a blow to lose Cabaye, and I think we are all aware of losing that creative influence
"But we need to lean on other members of our staff if we don't get a replacement, and in particular Sammy, Marveaux, Hatem, those creative influences who have been on the sidelines."
Newcastle have won just once in their last five Premier League outings and their European ambitions appear to be subsequently distant, although Pardew says that he is planning for the long-term.
"I just want us to have a great season, and hopefully build again for next year and try to get European football if we can," he said.
"For us, it's about trying to progress as a team and in the next six months, we need to do that.
"I think there will be a couple of changes in the summer that will be significant as well, and we need to make sure that we come out of it very, very strong."
Speaking ahead of the Tyne-Wear derby clash with Sunderland, Pardew admitted that he has a decision to make regarding the Ameobi brothers.
Shola has scored seven goals in previous meetings with the two, while his younger brother, Sammy, impressed at Norwich after being handed a rare start.
"Shola comes alive in these big fixtures and he will certainly be part of my thinking," he said.
"We have been hoping for Sammy. I have been defending his corner. For some of his substitute's appearances, he has not made a big impact.
"But certainly at Norwich, for the first time, really, he delivered at first-team level, and he has a great chance of starting on Saturday."