Hatem Ben Arfa

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Hatem Ben Arfa returned to training this week and has been pencilled in for a place in the squad for next month's Barclays Premier League fixture at Swansea City.

The French wizard, who had started the current campaign in the same superb form that he ended last season, suffered a hamstring injury in November's Europa League home tie against Maritimo and has played only once since.

He scored against Fulham in December but then suffered a reoccurance of the problem and was allowed to recover at the Clairefontaine academy in his homeland, where he began his career.

On Monday, he resumed full training at Newcastle's Benton headquarters but, determined not to rush the player back, Pardew resisted the temptation to include him in the squad for Thursday's Europa League round of 32 second leg meeting with Metalist Kharkiv.

But he could come into contention for the game at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, 2nd March.

"Hatem's only been with us two days from Clairefontaine, who I have to say have put him in fantastic physical condition for us," Pardew explained. "We're very pleased with their contribution and I thank them for for that.

"Again, it just underlines the relationship that we have in France because to have that faith to let Hatem do his recovery there - as we would if Yohan Cabaye or any of our other senior players preferred that route - that's worked out well.

"He's trained for two days. He looks match fitness short, but we hope that we can get him up to speed perhaps for the next round of this competition (the Europa League).

"I think Sunday's too early too, but certainly at Swansea I will be looking for him to have some sort of cameo role, on the bench maybe, if we progress well."

Click here to buy a Newcastle United shirt with Ben Arfa's name and number on the back

Six-Game Banner