Pardew urges Ben Arfa patience
Fit-again midfielder told by Toon boss to bide his time
Last Updated: September 23, 2011 10:02am
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has told Hatem Ben Arfa he still has more to do to earn a return to his Premier League line-up.
The French midfielder made his first appearance in almost a year on Tuesday night when he started the Magpies' Carling Cup win at Nottingham Forest.
The 24-year-old suffered a double leg fracture in a challenge from Manchester City's Nigel de Jong after just four games for the Toon and he was on the verge of a comeback before damaging ankle ligaments during their US tour.
He proved his fitness by managing 70 minutes at the City Ground but Pardew is set to revert to his first-choice XI for Saturday's home game against Blackburn.
Ben Arfa believes he is ready to become a regular again, and although Pardew has earmarked a centre-midfield role for the ex-Marseille man, the Toon boss warned he must bide his time.
"It is a horrible road to go down, with a long-term injury like that," he said. "He is in a good place right now.
"He has been helped by the other new French boys. He has five or six French speakers around him now.
Flashes of brilliance
"He likes the group and he trusts us. Now it is a matter of when he is ready. He shows flashes of brilliance in training, but I want him to do it more often in training before I bring him in.
"My view is that he can't play out wide. He has not got the relish for it and his best football comes through the middle.
"Realistically, he knows he has got more to do on the training ground. He smiles at me as if to say, 'OK, I will play next week.'
"He has character and there are times in the coming weeks when if he has not made a start he will be kicking my door down."
Indeed, Ben Arfa admits the ordeal of having to overcome such a serious injury has made him a stronger person.
"One year ago, my leg was shattered in two places - one pointing this way and the other pointing in the wrong direction," he said. "Now it has healed and is straight again, which is a massive relief.
"It's been a long process but it is an experience that I have learnt from, a good experience in one way. Coming through a trauma like that has made me a better person because my heart is stronger.
"It was 11 months," Ben Arfa added. "I was sad and very frustrated at times but I had to keep calm. I wanted the whole process to hurry up.
"I have not been depressed, but I have certainly been sad. It has been hard watching the team play and not being involved.
"So many things went through my mind. It was not just worrying about football. It was life in general. It is difficult to explain, but it has made me a bit more patient, I appreciate my career now.
"I am very happy to be playing again. It has been a difficult year, a long, hard time for me physically and mentally. I am delighted now to have got back on the pitch."
And having played out wide earlier in his career, the eight-cap France international is happy to now take on a central role in midfield.
"It's important for me to take on responsibilities as a playmaker for the team, as someone who is creative," he said. "I have to do good things on the pitch every game.
"I have confidence in my own ability but also in this squad. We have good players and we can go far this season. Am I ready? I would, of course, love to play some part on Saturday. I am ready."