Newcastle star Ben Arfa will play against Cardiff

Hatem Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa

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HATEM Ben Arfa will be handed the chance to fire Newcastle United into the FA Cup’s fourth round – just like he did two years ago.

The forward will start this afternoon’s third-round tie against Cardiff City at St James’s Park.

And midfielder Vurnon Anita will also face Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, with Yohan Cabaye sidelined with an Achilles problem.

Ben Arfa scored a stunning goal in Pardew’s only FA Cup win as United manager two years ago.

The 26-year-old ran half the length of the pitch at St James’s Park before equalising against Blackburn Rovers.

Newcastle went on to win 2-1 thanks to a late Jonas Gutierrez goal.

And Pardew is hopeful Ben Arfa and Anita can help United take the game to Cardiff.

“Vurnon will definitely start, and so will Hatem,” Pardew said. “That’s a definite.”

Anita was left out of the starting XI for the New Year’s Day defeat to West Bromwich Albion.

“In terms of Vurnon, he’s been terrific,” said Pardew. “Sometimes, as a manager, it gives you a chance to play players who train hard every day.

“Vurnon was very unfortunate not to play against West Brom. Hopefully, he can produce a performance.”

Newcastle looked jaded at The Hawthorns after their hectic festive programme, and Pardew, in hindsight, feels he should have made more changes to his team.

“I look at some of my players, particularly against West Brom, and I just felt we looked a bit tired,” he said.

“The fans who went would probably agree with that.

“You could argue in hindsight I could have freshened that team up. I’m certainly going to freshen it up this week, but I am doing it with experienced players.

“It’s very important that fans know we’re desperate to win.

“That’s all that needs to be said, really, and all the hearsay that goes on around it, is irrelevant.”