Ben Arfa missing as Newcastle host Anzhi

Newcastle will have to see off the challenge of Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League without the services of playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa, ESPN has reported.

St James’ Park hosts the second leg meeting between the sides with the score poised at 0-0 from the first encounter, but Ben Arfa has been ruled out of the match as his long-standing hamstring injury has flared up again.

Ben Arfa missed Newcastle’s New Year programme after suffering the injury against Fuham in December but returned to action in the first leg against Anzhi in Russia a week ago. However, the Frenchman is to see a specialist to get to the bottom of the problem after a minor recurrence this week, according to manager Alan Pardew.

We’re trying to finalise exactly his hamstring injury before we put him back into the fore again. He’s had a little setback so we’re getting a specialist to have a look at it,” Pardew revealed.

He continued: “ More important to us is his welfare going forward so we aren’t going to take any risks.

He had a slight little strain in there and we’re just checking that it’s no more than that. I think that will be the diagnosis and therefore there’s a chance he could be involved as early as Wigan [on Sunday].

Ben Arfa has been at Newcastle since 2010, originally signed on loan by Pardew’s predecessor Chris Hughton, with the move later made permanent. The former Marseille midfielder has made 49 appearances for the Magpies, scoring 10 goals.

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