Recurrence of hamstring injury may see Newcastle playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa miss Manchester City clash

Frenchman key to Newcastle's hopes of pushing up the table

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew fears he could be without key man Hatem Ben Arfa for Saturday's visit of defending Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City.

The winger, who returned from four games on the sidelines to score in the 2-1 defeat by Fulham on Monday night, risks missing out with a recurrence of the hamstring injury that has troubled him in recent weeks.

The 25-year-old Frenchman has been a source of creativity for the Newcastle attack whenever he has played in the early months of the season.

However, his absence, along with his injured compatriot Yohan Cabaye, has robbed Newcastle of much of their spark.

Pardew knows Ben Arfa, who has been playing in a more central role than usual, would be badly missed against a City side who will be smarting from their derby defeat by Manchester United.

"They have an abundance of flair players and probably the difference between us is that," Pardew said.

"They can call on five, six or seven top, top, international flair players and we probably have three, so we are on a knife edge when they are fit and when they are not fit.

"For this game we have a bit of a concern over Hatem and whether he will be available and that is something we are looking at today.

"His hamstring has a little bit of a problem and we're still trying to get to the bottom of that."

Newcastle's form this season has also been a worry for Pardew.

They are 14th in the overall standings and have only won once in their last nine games in all competitions, a 3-0 home league victory over strugglers Wigan earlier this month.

With the January transfer window drawing ever closer, the Magpies boss is targeting one or two more creative players to inject his side with more flair and attacking threat.

"On our side we look weak with the injuries we have sustained and we may need to bring in a player or two," Pardew said.

"We are in the market, as I'm sure a few other clubs will be. We play QPR next week and I'm sure they will be busy.

"There will be some movement and for all Premier League clubs, stability this year is important as the finance does obviously increase so I think there will be movement in this window."

Despite talks of possible arrivals and departures, Pardew believes he has players capable of achieving a much stronger set of results who just need to get out of their current rut of poor form.

"The bulk of the players that we are going to have for the second half of the season are here," the Magpies boss said.

"It would be nice to get one or two back, Steven Taylor and Yohan Cabaye around our first team, and hopefully bring one or maybe two players in the window if we can.

"We're a good side that is under-performing and there are reasons for that but we can't accept that. We have to work and we are working as hard as we can to turn the situation in our favour."

Pardew hopes victory against City, who have only won once in their last six games across all competitions, could make his job easier when approaching Newcastle owner Mike Ashley for transfer funding.

"Mike has been very supportive and I want to look him in the eye with great results under my belt, but at the minute I can't. I'm looking at him in the eye and I've got tricky results," Pardew said.

"He understands that and has been very supportive and now we look to the window hopefully and we may need some assistance in that but we will see."

Pardew played down links with Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko, who has today been linked with a January move to St James' Park in the French press.

Pardew said: "They seem to have the inside track on all of our transfers, but with Sissoko there is no foundation in that at this time."

PA

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