Hatem Ben Arfa


By Tom Easterby

 

French flier Hatem Ben Arfa is set for a Newcastle United return this weekend as the Magpies take on Crystal Palace at St. James' Park on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

The wideman has been missing from the United line-up for more than a month, but manager Alan Pardew confirmed Ben Arfa will return to the matchday squad for the Barclays Premier League clash with the Eagles.

His comeback is a timely boost for Pardew's side, who are without Ben Arfa's fellow countrymen Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy, with the pair sidelined by respective calf and groin injuries.

Confirming Ben Arfa's return to the fold, Pardew seemed encouraged by the 27-year-old's return to training this week.

"He's back into the squad and he looked a bit sharper and brighter, which is good news for us," explained the Newcastle boss.

However, Pardew, himself a former Palace player, knows what to expect from Tony Pulis' 17th-placed strugglers and says they'll be scrapping for points to aid their survival bid come Saturday.

"Tony's confidence and ability has pulled that team to within a fighting chance, because now they have a fighting chance of staying up. They'll be showing that on the pitch," he said.

"They were very good at Sunderland, very resilient."

Pardew, who reached the FA Cup final as a Palace player in 1990, knows his old side will be out to improve on their stalemate at the Stadium of Light last time out and called on his players to show some of the ruthlessness in the final third that was lacking at Fulham last week.

"They had a good performance at Sunderland, and I don't expect them to be much different really," he said.

"They will be fighting and scrapping, and Tony's teams are always very, very sure in terms of their jobs, and we need to come up with some more imagination than we did against Fulham, and some more cutting edge to our play.

"Most of our play was pretty good against Fulham, but the last third, unfortunately, wasn't good enough."

Tickets for Saturday's Barclays Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace are still on sale. To secure your seat, click here.