Hatem Ben Arfa

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Hatem Ben Arfa believes he is now ready to be unleashed upon the Barclays Premier League once again.

The French star could make his first league start since December against the Reds and, in an exclusive interview for this weekend's official matchday programme, he revealed that exciting fixtures like Saturday's clash with Liverpool are the reason he came to England.

Since suffering a hamstring injury against Maritimo in the Europa League in November, the 26-year-old has only started twice but has appeared from the bench in each of the Magpies' last three matches.

And he said: "My hamstring is completely fine now and I feel happy that the injury has gone and I can return to full fitness. I am 100 per cent fit.

"I'm happy that have come back into the team slowly and gradually.

"The manager and the doctor have put in place a programme to ensure I return gradually rather than rush back and get further problems in the future.

"I am happy with the work of the backroom staff and the manager because this was my first muscular injury and it was important that the healing ran its course."

Having eased Ben Arfa back in slowly, however, Alan Pardew has hinted that the number ten could start against Liverpool and the player said: "This is the best league in the world, without a doubt.

"You have teams like Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham who are always fighting at the top every season.

"When you play those teams they are massive matches and always have a special feeling around them, so that is a big appeal to come and play in England."

Saturday's matchday programme is available from sellers around St. James' Park from three hours before the match, costing £3. It can also be bought online here.

As well as the six-page exclusive with Ben Arfa, there are also features with Massadio Haidara and Yoan Gouffran as well as Alan Pardew and Fabricio Coloccini's regular notes.

A limited number of single tickets for the Liverpool match remain on sale to Members - click here to buy

Liverpool matchday programme