Newcastle receive injury boost
Ben Arfa hasn’t featured for the Magpies since scoring in the defeat at Fulham in December when he was forced off in the second half with a torn hamstring,
The injury was initially expected to keep him out for a fortnight until a scan revealed the scar tissue was the only thing keeping the muscle together.
He was mooted to return for the loss against Swansea on Saturday but manager Alan Pardew has resisted the temptation to rush his crown jewel back into action.
Newcastle have flown out to Moscow for the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash with Anzhi and the 25-year-old winger looks set to be given a runout on the Luzhniki Stadium’s artificial surface.
His presence in the squad will be a big boost to Pardew and his troops, who have lost just twice in their last seven games and dumped Metalist Kharkiv out in the previous round, and will hope he can prove the difference in Russia in what is expected to be a late cameo role.
The 51-year-old had expressed concern with Ben Arfa’s fitness following his recovery but some extra training sessions have brought him up to scratch in time for the game.