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Fulham 19:45 Newcastle

Ben Arfa comeback delayed

Frenchman not expected to return until May

Last Updated: 01/03/11 8:53am

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Ben Arfa: Could return in May

Ben Arfa: Could return in May

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Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has admitted that Hatem Ben Arfa's return from injury has been delayed.

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The French forward was thought to be in contention to be back from a gruesome double leg-break in order to face Wolves at the beginning of April.

But former Marseille star Ben Arfa, who suffered the injury against Manchester City in October, is now unlikely to be available until May.

Having only taken charge in December, Pardew is eager to call on the exciting 23-year-old, but he is not prepared to rush the rehabilitation process.

"I am going to protect him. I can't just throw him in," said Newcastle's manager.

"The Wolves game sound optimistic, even though I'm sure, in his own mind, he has set that as his target.

"But he is still very much in the process of recovery and he has a long road back. It may even take us into May.

"To break both bones in the shin is tough, not just physically, but mentally, too."

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