Newcastle United’s Alan Pardew urges Hatem Ben Arfa to fight for his place

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HATEM Ben Arfa has been warned he will have to fight to win his place back in Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United side.

Ben Arfa was left out of the starting XI for Sunday’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa after Demba Ba returned from the African Cup of Nations.

The forward had enjoyed a run of games in Pardew’s team in Ba’s absence.

However, with the striker having made a goalscoring return – and new signing Papiss Demba Cisse having scored on his debut – Ben Arfa will have to work even harder to get back in the side.

The 24-year-old was a peripheral figure in United’s three previous games against Blackburn Rovers, Brighton and Hove Albion and Fulham.

Pardew has again challenged the hugely talented France international to up his workrate and make a bigger contribution on the pitch – with and without the ball – for Newcastle.

“Hatem still hasn’t quite grasped, in my opinion, this Premier League,” Pardew said.

“He’s got unbelievable talent, but he’s not used to it. He’s got to fight now to get in this team.

“He could still have a massive impact on this season, but we need to see him at his best.”

Meanwhile, Ba has reiterated his commitment to United after a month of speculation about his future.

Ba is being watched by a number of clubs, including Saturday’s opponents Spurs, but the striker’s adamant he’s settled on Tyneside.

“I never talked to anyone to say I wanted to leave,” said the Senegal international.