Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew backs Hatem Ben Arfa to produce more ‘magic moments’

Hatem Ben Arfa scored a wonder goal against Blackburn Rovers last weekend.
Hatem Ben Arfa scored a wonder goal against Blackburn Rovers last weekend.
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HATEM Ben Arfa has been backed to produce more “magical moments” for Newcastle United – with Queens Park Rangers next in the firing line.

The forward marked his return to the starting XI with a stunning goal in last weekend’s 2-1 FA Cup win over Blackburn Rovers.

And Ben Arfa is set to keep his place for Sunday’s home game against QPR.

Opportunities have been few and far between for Ben Arfa this season, who laid bare his frustration before the win over Manchester United.

However, with leading scorer Demba Ba away preparing for the African Cup of Nations, Ben Arfa’s time has come, though Pardew is still looking for more from the 24-year-old.

“I think we saw all the sides of Hatem (against Blackburn),” Pardew said.

“There was some loose stuff – he was a bit cheap with the ball – and I’d have liked a bit more intensity out of him defensively.

“But there were some magical moments which no one else in our team can produce.”

Ben Arfa voiced his disappointment at a lack of Premier League starts last week in a series of interviews.

Pardew’s response was to leave Ben Arfa on the bench for the 3-0 win over Man United.

However, he insists he understands the player’s dissatisfaction with a bit-part role.

Pardew added: “Every player has a different personality and character and Hatem’s a very different personality to most footballers in terms of the way he believes in himself and the ability that he has.

“It’s frustrating for him to have that sort of ability and not play because of other issues, like his intensity when we haven’t got the ball and coming back from that injury.

“But we’re getting there. We’re trying to get the balance of the team right.

“When he came out on the right (side of midfield), it looked better for us.

“That doesn’t necesarily mean that’s him – he can play a number of roles.”

* Rising star Michael Richardson is out for two months after rupturing ankle ligaments.

The 19-year-old Newcastle United midfielder, signed from non-league club Walker Central last year, is on crutches after suffering the injury in an indoor training session last week.

Reserve-team coach Willie Donachie said: “When we were in the indoor barn last week having a game, because it was very windy, he went over on his ankle. He’s ruptured his ankle ligaments.”