Club Focus – Newcastle – Hughton still reeling over Ben Arfa injury

Newcastle head into the international break still reeling from Hatem Ben Arfa’s potentially season ending injury. The Magpies’ worst fears were realised when it was confirmed after the game that the on-loan Frenchman would require surgery on broken tibia and fibula on his left leg. Ben Arfa’s operation took place on Monday morning and it is as yet unknown when he will finally return to action. Although Manchester City hardman Nigel de Jong has been suspended from international duty with the Netherlands it will offer little solace to Chris Hughton who is now robbed of one of his most talented players. The player will remain on Tyneside as he recuperates from his broken leg instead of returning to his parent club Marseille. There is a feeling that Newcastle still remain committed to signing the player even though it is extremely unlikely he will play in the 25 games needed to make his move from France permanent. Hughton praised the popular Frenchman saying: “Hatem’s a smashing lad with great character and bags of determination. With the help of our medical team and backroom staff, I am sure he will make a full and speedy recovery. I am absolutely devastated for Hatem. To get injured at any time is bad enough, but to suffer such a horrendous injury as a double leg break is sickening for the lad.”

To soften the blow of losing Ben Arfa there has been some encouraging news on the injury front. The two Danny’s – Simpson and Guthrie returned to action in Tuesday night’s reserve clash with Aston Villa. The pair have been absent with injury all season but could now be involved in the squad to face Wigan a week on Saturday. Simpson will provide more competition for places at right back alongside Ryan Taylor and James Perch. Guthrie became increasingly influential towards the end of last season as he excelled in a central midfield berth. But with Ben Arfa sidelined he may find himself played in a wide position with Newcastle now short in that position.

It has been a disappointing few days for Andy Carroll as the striker failed to make the cut for Fabio Capello’s England squad and also finding himself on the bench against Manchester City. Veteran centre forward Kevin Davies was preferred over Carroll as Capello went for experience over youth. Carroll has also been left out of the Under-21 squad following a falling out with Coach Stuart Pearce after he pulled out of the previous squad with injury. After an excellent start to the new season the number nine has failed to score in his last four games and has at times found himself isolated as the lone striker. Manager Hughton explained his decision to drop Carroll to the bench at Eastlands. “He did have a bit of a virus last week but I felt over the last few games he has just lost a little bit,” said Hughton. “And Shola had a fabulous game at Chelsea in the Carling Cup so I wanted to give him a chance.”

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