Pardew – I’m Not Being Critical Of Ben Arfa – Definitely Not

One of the widely publicized comments of Alan Pardew’s news conference yesterday for the game at Swansea tomorrow, is that he has been disappointed with Hatem Ben Arfa’s fitness levels, since he returned to training a week last Monday.

Hatem Ben Arfa gets a hug from his Newcastle United team-mate

Ben Arfa – not as fit as he should be

And now it seems an alternative treatment for Ben Arfa last December, was to have the hamstring operated on, but the Newcastle medics took the more cautious approach of giving the injury time to heal.

Here is the full text of Alan Pardew talking about Ben Arfa’s conditioning and his hamstring problem:

“Hatem’s conditioning has disappointed me this week.” “He lacks a bit of fitness and that is something we need to push on. His upper body strength is there, but his general fitness needs to improve.”

“My gut feeling is that I’ll take him to Swansea, but he will work when he’s with me, and he’ll work hard.” “He’s been protecting his hamstrings, but now it’s a question of trying to get the work in.”

“He had a little bit of trouble this week with illness and missed a day, and he’s missed a couple of other days here and there which have cost him.” “I think that from now on, he cannot miss any more days.

“I am not being critical of him, definitely not. I’m just telling our fans because I know our fans will be thinking, ‘Let’s get Hatem in the team’, and he isn’t ready. My sports science boys are pushing him, but we can only push him as far as we can.”

“On the back of a really bad hamstring injury, I can understand why we have been so protective of him. But now is the time to kick on.”

Notice that Alan went out of his way to say he wasn’t criticizing Ben Arfa, but of course that’s not the way it’s been reported in some quarters.

It could be a mental type of problem that Ben Arfa is unknowingly protecting his hamstring, and the last thing he wants is to have it go again.

We don’t know the specifics of Ben Arfa’s injury and we are not medical people, but if the Newcastle medics and presumably the specialist considered an operation may be necessary – that’s possibly what should have happened and get it over with.

Giving it time to heal doesn’t always work – and he may need an operation in any case – and the whole recovery then takes a lot longer than if surgery was done in the first place.

And that’s what was decided was necessary to fix Yohan Cabaye’s persistent groin problems.

But of course we hope the Frenchman can now return to fitness quickly, and maybe he can make an appearance in Russia when we play FC Anzhi Makhachkala next Thursday night.

He’s a great player and it’s always good to have him in the Newcastle side.

Comments welcome.

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