ALAN PARDEW fears Hatem Ben Arfa will not be passed fit in time for Newcastle United’s game against Manchester City as the club continue to investigate a troublesome hamstring injury.
After suffering an injury against Maritimo in the Europa League, he was surprisingly recalled on Monday at Fulham.
But Ben Arfa, who scored in a 2-1 defeat at Craven Cottage, was withdrawn in the second half as a precaution.
Pardew has admitted that the club are in a tricky position with the Frenchman, and said: “He is a concern. He had a hamstring injury before the game as we know.
“He trained, we scanned him, he was good. He played well in the game. The doctor said be careful with him in terms of how long he plays, which is why we took him off.
I thought he was playing well.
“Since then, although he has no symptoms, the scan doesn’t show that his hamstring is very well. It’s a tricky one for Hatem, the doctor and particularly for myself.
“It’s hard to know exactly where he is. We think he’s got a problem. But it’s not reflected in him at the minute.
“It’s an unusual situation but we’ve had a lot of unusual situations this year. My gut feeling is that he won’t be fit for Saturday.”
Pardew knows that Ben Arfa’s creativity is of great benefit to the Magpies, but is mindful that risking him tomorrow could set him back even further.
Pardew added: “It is a tough call. But I have to look at the bigger picture, as well as the immediate problem of trying to get a win which would relieve a lot of pressure on the team.
“It’s a psychological blow if Hatem is out. It’s been a psychological blow to keep losing our top players. We have to keep overcoming them. But the performance we put in before Hatem came back against Stoke was good and we have to lean on that.”
With or without Ben Arfa, Pardew believes the work ethic and team spirit has not been diminished by Newcastle’s poor league form – but that a lack of momentum has cost them dearly.
“We need to find consistency,”
said Pardew. “Injuries and lack of form in some players mean we have lacked momentum.
“When you are winning games you go to the next game and hardly have to think about it. Our work rate is still there and has been high in the last three games, and there is still a strong spirit.”
Pardew, who rubbished reports that the club are in talks to sign Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko, added: “We look weak after the injuries we have sustained. We may need a player of two in January.
We are in the market.
There will be some movement.
“Our statistics and results don’t look good. We are having a rough run. We don’t disguise that.
“We are a good side under performing. But we are working hard to turn it in our favour.”