Pardew faced with Ben Arfa conundrum
After suffering an injury against Maritimo in the Europa League, the Frenchman was surprisingly recalled on Monday at Fulham.
But Ben Arfa, who scored in the 2-1 defeat at Craven Cottage, was substituted in the second half, and Magpies boss Alan Pardew has conceded his midfield maestro is unlikely to be fit for Saturday’s showdown with City.
“He is a concern. He had a hamstring injury before the game as we know”, Pardew told The Northern Echo.
“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.
“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 … My gut feeling is that he won’t be fit for Saturday.”
Pardew will be cursing the absence of one of his most creative players at a time when the Toon need to collect points, but he is aware that re-introducing him too soon could risk his long-term fitness.
“It is a tough call”, he added. “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.”