Newcastle’s influential French forward Hatem Ben Arfa was told he is unlikely to play again for the rest of the season.
The 26-year-old first damaged his hamstring in December and at that point it was decided rest would be the best way for him to be able to play a part in the remainder of the campaign, rather than undergoing an operation. He returned briefly against Anzhi Makhachkala in Moscow last week, following recuperation at the Clairefontaine centre in France, but that brief cameo is likely to be his last appearance in a Newcastle shirt this season following a repeat of the injury.
Now Newcastle’s medical staff are weighing up whether to send Ben Arfa for surgery to cure the problem in order for him to return next season.
“I think that’s one of two roads,” said the Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew. “We either go down a similar road to the one we went down before, or an operation and I think our medical team and everyone’s assessment, including the French surgeon, will diagnose him as well.
“The injury has re-occurred in the scar tissue and therefore, do we build the scar tissue up again and try and get him back that way? I think the bottom line is I just said, ‘Look, let’s just forget him this year,’ and that way he has plenty of time to decide, him and his team and our staff, what we think is right for him, and the French national team as well, because they’re in it too. They want him to be back at his best.”
The talented Ben Arfa has scored 10 goals and has 10 assists in less than 50 appearances for Newcastle since his move from Marseilles in 2010, which was initially on loan, and the quality of those has made him a huge favourite at St James’ Park. His goal against Blackburn made the shortlist of 10 for the Puskas Award for the best goal of last year, the only one from the Premier League. His Newcastle career has already been affected by serious injury, when he broke his leg in two places following a challenge by Manchester City’s Nigel de Jong.