HATEM Ben Arfa is set to be fined by Newcastle United for his impromptu Press conference – and left out again by manager Alan Pardew.
The forward was left out of the Magpies’ squad for Monday’s defeat at Arsenal.
And Ben Arfa reacted by arranging a Press call, in which he questioned why his opportunities have been limited this season.
“He doesn’t want me to play,” said Ben Arfa. “I respect it. If he wants, I will play. I’m here for the club. I just want to play. I’m fit.”
The 27-year-old’s comments have heaped more pressure on Pardew – whose side is on a club-record six-game Premier League losing run – ahead of tomorrow’s home game against relegation-threatened Cardiff.
Ben Arfa – who denies he has been a disruptive influence behind the scenes – yesterday trained with the club’s Under-21s while Pardew worked with the first-team squad.
And the odds are against the 27-year-old being involved against Cardiff.
Asked if Ben Arfa will play again for the club this season, Pardew said: “I’ve not said he will or won’t.
“But what I have said is that I’ll pick the team on merit for this club.
“It’s the same as Arsenal. He was fit for Arsenal.
“I picked a team on merit for Arsenal, and I’ll pick a team on merit this week.”
Ben Arfa, having arranged an interview without Newcastle’s permission, will go through the club’s disciplinary process, which could end with a fine.
“As a Premier League manager, you get these sort of issues,” Pardew said.
“But there is a disciplinary process for that, and we’ll follow the same process for Hatem as everybody else on that.”
Ben Arfa is a popular figure among supporters, who feel the team needs his flair and creativity more than ever after a barren few months since the January departure of Yohan Cabaye.
“The only thing I’d say to our supporters is that the team comes first,” said Pardew.
“This is not about me, Hatem or any individual player.
“What is important is the team and performance.
“The team has worked very, very well. It’ll be a strong side that I put out. I expect us to win.”