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Ben Arfa fitness bemuses Pardew

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew said he is disappointed with Hatem Ben Arfa’s level of fitness as he continues his recovery from injury.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew said he is disappointed with Hatem Ben Arfa’s level of fitness as he continues his recovery from injury.

The France international has been out with a hamstring injury since December, and has suffered numerous setbacks. In his absence, new signing’s Yoan Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko have impressed, while Jonas Gutierrez has proved a capable understudy.

The Magpies boss said there may be a cameo appearance for Ben Arfa at Swansea, and insisted there is no blame attached to the injury; he merely wants to explain to the Newcastle fans why the attacker is not playing.

He told reporters: “I have to say his condition has disappointed me this week, and we will be working hard in the next few days to get him up to speed because he lacks a bit of fitness, for sure.

“I just think it’s something we need to push him on at. His upper body strength is there, but we want to work on his general fitness. I think that needs to improve.

“My gut feeling is that I’ll take him to Swansea but he will work when he’s with me and he’ll work hard. Really and truly if I do decide to use him, it will be a 10 minute cameo.

“I think it was pretty close to deciding to attack it again with an operation, that’s how bad it was. We took the option not to do that, probably in the long term that was the best decision because you do not want to have surgery at any time really.

“I remember seeing a picture of it and it was a complete bleed in the whole leg so he had a lot of fluids and bad stuff in there.

“There is no blame attached to him. I am not being critical of him. I am just telling our fans because I know our fans are like: ‘let’s get Hatem in the team,’ and he ain’t ready.”

Newcastle will travel to Swansea’s Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
Fri 1 March, 2013
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