Ben Arfa has been working on his fitness over the last week at an accelerated pace, and that includes coming in over the weekend and doing extra work in an attempt to get him fit as soon as possible.
Ben Arfa – could play on Thursday night
And it looks like the French International will get some playing time in Thursday night’s Europa League tie in Russia, although his is unlikely to start that game.
This is what Alan Pardew told the Shields Gazette today:
“I think he’s got a chance.” “We wanted to put some work into him – he’s a little bit short.” “Whether he gets 20 or 30 minutes towards the end of that game, I don’t know. That’s probably the most he could get.”
“We’ll see how he shapes up. He worked all weekend. Hopefully, we’ll get him even closer.”
It could be a difficult game on Thursday night, as it’s being played on the artificial pitch of Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which is the 78,000 capacity home of both Spartak Moscow and CSKA, but it’s a long long way from Makhachkala – about 1,115 miles.
It will be good to have Ben Arfa back in the side, after he was initially injured in late November, when we played against Maritimo at St James’s Park and he had to come off in that game with his hamstring injury.
But it’s taken a long time to get the lad back to playing again, after an aborted comeback at Fulham in early December, in which he was our Man of the Match and scored that fantastic goal.
And he turns 26 on Thursday too – so maybe he can celebrate his birthday with a goal?
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org