Hatem Ben Arfa Everton

By Anthony Marshall, at the Northern Echo Arena


Hatem Ben Arfa makes his first appearance since October for Newcastle United as they travel to Darlington tonight in their first pre-season friendly (kick-off 7.45pm).

The French international has not kicked a ball since breaking his leg at Manchester City early last season, but is back in the starting line-up at the Northern Echo Arena.

Also in the team is goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who has returned from a loan spell at Celtic last term, and Slovenian youngster Haris Vuckic.

Magpies boss Alan Pardew is expected to try out a new formation, with two holding central midfielders and three attack-minded players behind the lone striker Leon Best.

And the manager has named 13 substitutes, including summer signings Yohan Cabaye and Mehdi Abeid, as he bids to give plenty of players a run-out.


Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Fraser Forster; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor, Shane Ferguson; Danny Guthrie, Alan Smith; Joey Barton, Haris Vuckic, Hatem Ben Arfa; Leon Best

Subs: Ole Soderberg, Ryan Taylor, James Tavernier, Paul Dummett, Jeff Henderson, Dan Gosling, Yohan Cabaye, Mehdi Abeid, Michael Richardson, Conor Newton, Ryan Donaldson, Sammy Ameobi, Nile Ranger