Pardew: Ben Arfa's so fit he's even tackling back
Published 21:30 21/11/11 By Simon Bird
Hatem Ben Arfa has passed Alan Pardew's perspiration test, to finally complete his 13-month comeback from a broken leg.
The French winger made his first league start of the season against Manchester City at the weekend, with a challenge to match the work rate of his team-mates ringing in his ears.
Ben Arfa has been held back for several weeks due to Newcastle's unbeaten run that ended at Eastlands on Saturday.
And the man viewed by some as a luxury player showed against the league leaders that he is willing to put in a shift off the ball, as well as provide attacking inspiration.
"Hatem did some great stuff up front for us, but look at his work at the other end. There is no problem with that," said Pardew.
"He works really really hard and I said to him, 'Coming into this team, the one thing the other players are wanting to see from you is energy' because that is what we have had all year.
"Every player who has come in has given me energy and he [Ben Arfa] did give me that - and extra quality. Hopefully he can take us forward. Actually coming out of this game, when we get everyone back, we could be a stronger side."
Newcastle sold Kazenga LuaLua to Championship side Brighton on Monday, but experienced keeper Steve Harper has moved back to Tyneside from the same club after his month-long loan spell ended.
Pardew is expecting to have a near full-strength side ready to face Manchester United at the weekend, with Cheick Tiote, Leon Best and Gabriel Obertan all fit again.
"We were without four at City, but my squad is definitely deeper than last year, without a shadow of doubt," he said. "Sammy Ameobi would have got great confidence from some of the embarrassing moments he caused [City left-back Gael] Clichy. He did brilliantly.
"We are strong enough to cope with a strong season and that is what we hope to have.
"We can take confidence that we were level for 40 minutes and then matched them in the second half.
"You could see in the dressing room there is genuine belief and in the second half, we were hunting for that next goal, we knew it would be crucial and if we had got it, it could have been very different.
"Cheick trained very well on Saturday morning. That's really great news for us. He would have been a player for us at Man City.
"I think he and Obertan will be available for Man United. I really hope so, it'll improve my options."