Ben Arfa to miss Newcastle United’s opener

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HATEM Ben Arfa is out of Saturday’s season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur.

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew is sweating on the fitness of a clutch of players ahead of Saturday’s game at the Sports Direct Arena.

Captain Fabricio Coloccini and Cheik Tiote suffered knocks in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Cardiff City.

Yohan Cabaye is still short of match fitness, while Papiss Demba Cisse (hamstring) and Demba Ba (shin) are also in the treatment room.

The clutch of injuries, while minor, are a concern for Pardew, who fears Ben Arfa will also miss the first leg of Newcastle’s Europa League qualifier against Atromitos next week.

“Ben Arfa has a slight knee problem, which I think definitely keeps him out of the first week,” Pardew said.

“Papiss has got a slight hamstring and Demba has a shin injury, which he’s carried for a week or so.

“Yohan Cabaye is not right in terms of work he’s done. We are hoping to get him up to speed and get him involved on Saturday.

“Everybody else is OK, apart from the knocks we got at Cardiff.”

Coloccini was substituted at the break as a precaution, while Tiote left the field in the second half at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The injury looks certain to keep him out of Ivory Coast’s friendly against Russia in Moscow on Wednesday.

“Cheik has got a calf problem,” said Pardew. “We’ll have to see. I don’t think he’ll travel, by the way.

“Colo looked like he was struggling after 20 minutes, which worries me. Colo didn’t want to come off being captain.

“I wasn’t sure if he was injured or not, so he might have played too long.”

On the game, which saw Cardiff lead 3-0 at the break, Pardew said: “We were a bit sleepy.

“At half-time, the damage was done. In the second-half, we were better.”

Once Cardiff got themselves ahead, they didn’t look back.

Aron Gunnarsson got the better of Davide Santon to squeeze a fine shot beyond Tim Krul and in off the far post in the 16th minute, and an unmarked Joe Ralls doubled the advantage from close range four minutes later.

Their third came from Gunnarsson, but Shola Ameobi gave Newcastle some hope from the penalty spot early in the second half after Jonas Gutierrez was fouled by Kevin McNaughton.

However, Etien Velikonja ended hopes of a comeback with the home side’s fourth goal.

CARDIFF CITY: Marshall; McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor; Conway, Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Ralls; Mutch; Helguson.

NEWCASTLE: Krul; Simpson, S Taylor (Gosling, 63), Coloccini (Williamson, 46), Santon; Obertan (Campbell, 84), Tiote (Amalfitano, 71), R Taylor (Perch, 28), Marveaux (Vuckic, 46); Gutierrez; Shola Ameobi. Sub not used: Harper.

Goals: Gunnarsson 16, 26, Ralls 20, Shola Ameobi 49 (pen), Velikonja 76

Att: 9,682. Ref: Mark Whitby (Swansea)