By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Journalist
United boss Alan Pardew has pencilled in a possible return to action for Hatem Ben Arfa at Nottingham Forest in the Carling Cup.
The forward has been out of action since suffering an ankle injury on the Club's pre-season tour of America in July, which forced him to fly home early.
Having undergone his rehabilitation in his French homeland, Ben Arfa returned to the North-East at the start of this week and was straight back in to training at the Magpies' Benton-based Training Centre.
His recovery and fitness levels have been a pleasant surprise to Pardew and his medical staff, and the manager is contemplating handing the France international a comeback when United travel to the City Ground in the third round of the Carling Cup on Tuesday, 21st September.
"Hatem's progress has been better than we thought, and he is certainly ahead of schedule," explained Pardew on Thursday.
"When he came back this week we were not expecting him to be in perhaps as good a condition as he is in.
"I have earmarked maybe the Nottingham Forest game as maybe an opportunity for him to take part in that game, but we will have to see how he goes. But so far his injury looks really good and his fitness does too."