Ben Arfa back in the frame for Newcastle United start

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HATEM Ben Arfa’s put himself in the frame for a return to the starting XI at Newcastle United - after showcasing his talent from the bench.

The form of the likes of Moussa Sissoko, Shola Ameobi and Yoan Gouffran has kept the talented forward out of the team since late October.

But the 26-year-old impressed in his late appearances in the club’s last two away games, the victories over Crystal Palace and Manchester United.

Ben Arfa scored a penalty at Selhurst Park at the weekend.

And he is a contender, along with Papiss Demba Cisse and Shola Ameobi, to replace the suspended Cheik Tiote against Stoke City at St James’s Park this afternoon.

“He is a player that wants to play,” United manager Alan Pardew told the Gazette. “At the moment he’s sitting on the sidelines.

“He hasn’t got a problem with it, as the team’s playing well and winning, but he had a nice cameo on Saturday. He did well when he came on.

“He did that at Man United as well. Sooner or later he’ll get a game, I’m sure, and we’ll see the best of him.”

On his options for Stoke, Pardew added: “I want the that can beat Stoke. I’ll pick a team that I think can do it.

“We’ve also got Papiss in the background. Sammy (Ameobi) has done very, very well.”

Ben Arfa’s penalty was won by striker Shola Ameobi, who has an unblemished record from the spot and is still looking for his first Premier League goal of the season.

“I didn’t know who would take it as (Yohan) Cabaye takes the penalties, and he wasn’t on the pitch,” said Pardew.

“It really was up for grabs. It wasn’t Shola who was due to take it, but it worked out.”