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Newcastle United’s Alan Pardew wants Ben Arfa drive

HATEM Ben Arfa will come into a “different” Newcastle team – if he makes his comeback from injury tonight.

Ben Arfa has a chance of featuring against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

The forward, arguably the Magpies’ player of the season so far, has spent the last three weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.

Newcastle ended a four-game losing run in the Premier League a week ago with a convincing 3-0 victory over Wigan.

And the “resilience” on show that night is here to stay, according to manager Alan Pardew.

“We’ve put a new resilience in the team,” Pardew said.

“I don’t care if Hatem’s fit or not, he needs to come in and understand there’s a different look to the team.

“The team’s got a little bit more drive in it, a little bit more energy.

“He needs to bring that in if he comes in against Fulham, or Manchester City (on Saturday). We’re not far away from being a good side.”

While Ben Arfa has shone for Newcastle, striker Dimitar Berbatov has netted five goals for 13th-placed Fulham, level on points with the Tynesiders.

“They’ve been hot and cold,” said Pardew, whose side were beaten 5-2 at Craven Cottage last season.

“We’ve had Hatem, and their outstanding player is Berbatov. He’s been terrific, and we’re going to need to make sure he doesn’t have a big influence on the game.

“They’ve got good pros. I’ve been to see Fulham a lot. They were on my doorstep when I was working in London.

“They’re very difficult at home. They’ve got a nice rhythm, and their fans don’t give them too much of a hard time.

“They can play poorly, and the fans will stay with them. You have to concentrate for 90 minutes at their place.”

Meanwhile, Pardew – whose side lost 2-0 at Bordeaux on Thursday night in the Europa League – is grateful for the extra day’s preparation the TV scheduling has given him.

He said: “That extra day is massive – huge. My stats tell me everything I need to know about my players. They can’t physically reach that level with two and a half days rest.”

 
 
 

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