Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa has revealed that he almost lost a leg earlier in the season and had to undergo an emergency operation. The Frenchman is set to make a return to light training this week as he nears recovery from a double leg break. Ben Arfa suffered a serious infection to his leg several weeks after undergoing surgery for his injury received from a Nigel de Jong challenge. The 24 year old said: “I
However, the plan for next season appears to be building a side around the enigmatic Frenchman. Before the Wolves match, Pardew stated that he wanted to play Ben Arfa in a central position behind the main striker for the 2011-12 campaign. Newcastle have invested a significant sum of money in the French international and will be hoping that he returns the same player he was before breaking his leg. Ben Arfa has generally played either out wide or in an advanced central position throughout his career. The player will also need to adapt to a completely new way of life on his return to Tyneside after spending his rehabilitation at the Clairefontaine academy in his native country.
In the aftermath of the Wolves victory, manager Pardew again stated his desire to keep Joey Barton at the club. The midfield schemer was at his creative best on Saturday creating no fewer than eight goalscoring chances, the most by a single player over the weekend. The club plan to hold contract talks with Barton and Jose Enrique once safety for this season is confirmed. Both players have been in outstanding form since the start of the campaign and have attracted the attention of numerous admirers. “It’s important to keep your best players – and our best players showed up on Saturday, big style,” ,Pardew said after the Wolves game. Barton is in line to captain Newcastle for the next two games as Kevin Nolan is suspended and deputy Alan Smith is sidelined through injury.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have announced another fixture on to their pre-season tour of America against Columbus Crew on July 26. Both of their friendly matches in the States promise to be competitive as the American teams will be at full fitness with their league well underway. The Magpies will also be able to make full use of the excellent training facilities available across the Atlantic.