Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa could return to the Newcastle side in time for the local derby against Sunderland next week. 

Ben Arfa has been under specialist observation from a French doctor who has been observing the Frenchman for three months following his initial hamstring injury sustained in December 2012.

Ben Arfa warmed up with the Newcastle team before the 1-0 victory against Fulham yesterday, and it is thought Ben Arfa could make a first appearance since 7th March when he played a cameo role against Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League. 

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew spoke to the Hartlepool Mail and said: "What's happened with Hatem is that the scan has shown that we've got some scar tissue still in the hamstring but he's showing no ill-effects.

"We've sent him to see three experts now, mainly a French expert who has been looking after him. He thinks Hatem is now 100%. We are now treating him as that. He's running and there could be a cameo as soon as Sunderland," added Pardew.

Pardew has now challenged Ben Arfa to train to his fullest this week and force his way into the first team. 

Pardew said: "He's got a week's work. If he gets through that work, then he could be involved."

At times this season Newcastle have struggled without Ben Arfa, and this has shown in their league position - 36 points from 32 games. But now Ben Arfa is rearing to go again and Newcastle fans will no doubt hope that he will be back to his best as soon as possible.

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