ALAN PARDEW insists Hatem Ben Arfa still has a future at Newcastle United, and claims his recent talks with the French midfielder have been nothing out of the ordinary.
Pardew has held a series of heart-to-heart discussions with Ben Arfa in recent weeks amid suggestions of growing unhappiness within the dressing room at the midfielder's perceived lack of application in both training and matches.
A number of senior players are understood to have been unhappy with Ben Arfa's return to the squad at Stoke City last weekend after his performance as a substitute against Manchester United had been roundly criticised.
The issue has become something of a touchstone subject as a large section of Newcastle supporters would like to see Ben Arfa in the first team, and chanted repeatedly for the winger to be introduced at the Britannia Stadium.
Ben Arfa is a major injury doubt for tomorrow's game against Swansea as he is nursing a knock he picked up at Stoke, but Pardew maintains the Frenchman could still play a major role in his future plans.
“Has he got a future? Yes. He's still contracted here for two years,” said the Newcastle boss. “It's like all players and all situations, there's certain times when you talk to players and want more, and players want more from you as manager. Those talks go on on a daily basis with all players, not just Hatem.”
While Ben Arfa faces a race against time to be fit to face Swansea, Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy will both be back in the starting line-up on Saturday.
“We've got three or four back on the training ground and that's good news,” said Pardew. “Remy and Debuchy are back training, and Moussa is back running, so it's looking better on that front.
“That's a big boost in terms of their experience at this level, and it's nice to see them back. With the World Cup not far around the corner, it's important they get the time in now.”
With Newcastle's supporters having turned against Pardew at the Britannia Stadium last weekend, the Magpies manager is aware of the huge importance of Saturday's game.
“It's been difficult,” he said. “I have to wear the defeats at this football club and it's not comfortable. I want to win more than anybody. And for the fans who have seen the games where we could have been better, we have to put that right.
“We've had a season of ups and downs. We've had four wins in a row and four losses. We've had more Premier League wins that Southampton, but look at us lately and our record is not good at all.
“It's been up and down. We just want to get a positive result now and get some momentum moving in the right way.”