As Alan Pardew looks to bring further reinforcements to St James' Park before the close of the transfer window, the return of Haten Ben Arfa could be more important than any new signing.
The Frenchman will make his long-awaited return for the Magpies tomorrow evening against Darlington, having been sidelined since October last year after suffering a double leg-break against Manchester City.
Ben Arfa is sure to get a warm reception from the Toon faithful when he takes to the pitch at the Darlington Arena, having made an instant impact upon his move to the north-east last summer.
The 24-year-old initially joined Newcastle from Marseille on a season-long loan but, after a string of impressive performances prior to his horrific injury, he completed a £6 million move to St James' in January.
It would now appear the midfielder is raring to go once more, and Pardew is delighted Ben Arfra is finally available for selection.
“Generally, everyone is above where I want them to be. Sylvain Marveaux hasn’t played for a while so he’s just slightly behind where we want him to be, and Xisco is a little bit behind," said the Newcastle boss.
“But the main guys are looking good. And I’ve been delighted to see Hatem Ben Arfa out there running – he looks in excellent condition. I’m really pleased in him so far.
“Hatem gives us that X factor that we need. I said at the end of last season we would need one or two people to step up and provide us with that, and I hope Hatem can do that.
“He is a player capable of that special pass or that special bit of skill that gets Newcastle fans off their feet. I can’t wait to work with him, he can be a very important player for us next season.”
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