NEWCASTLE United pair Hatem Ben Arfa and Dan Gosling are sacrificing their summer holidays in a bid to get fit for the new campaign, writes MILES STARFORTH.
Ben Arfa (pictured) missed the bulk of last season after suffering a horrific double leg break away to Manchester City in October.
And Gosling – who was recovering from a cruciate ligament injury when he signed from Everton last summer – made just one brief substitute’s appearance in January before suffering a setback.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew took the decision not to involve the midfield pair in the last couple of games, and instead the pair were told to focus on ensuring they were ready for July, when the club’s players report back for training.
Pardew’s assistant, John Carver, is confident they will be able to play a full part in pre-season.
Ben Arfa, 24, is working at the French football academy Clairefontaine over the summer months, while 21-year-old Gosling will start pre-season several weeks earlier than his colleagues with a fitness specialist in the United States.
“Both Dan and Hatem will be back and up to scratch for the new season,” said Carver. “Dan’s going to the US first to have a family holiday, then do some warm weather training. He’ll be joining us for the games in the States.
“It’s the same for Hatem. Last season we knew there was no point in risking anybody once we were safe, but Dan and Hatem looked really good in training.
“The excellent medical team have made sure (Hatem) is well looked after. He’s been working hard at Clairefontaine, and again, he’ll be ready for the new season.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Nolan is confident that Newcastle can carry on up the table next season.
The Magpies ended their first campaign back in the Premier League in 12th place.
Had it not been for a 90th-minute equaliser on the final day of the season, Alan Pardew’s side would have ended the campaign in ninth.
However, that disappointment should take away from Newcastle’s achievements, according to Nolan.
And the Newcastle captain is optimistic a strengthened squad can make a renewed challenge.
“We will continue to build like we have done throughout the season,” Nolan said.
“We haven’t got carried away with anything that was really good or bad. I think that’s what’s important.
“That’s what this squad brings, and the fans can see that now. Hopefully, we can build success together. The main thing for us is making sure we maintain Premier League status again first and foremost.
“Once we’ve done that, (the aim will be) to get as high up the table as we can. Next year, we’ll hopefully get our signings in and go on from there, because that’s the main thing we need to be doing.”
Nolan skippered former club Boltons in Europe, and the 28-year-old would love to return to the continent in black and white.
“It’s about us being ambitious next year, and staying around that top 10 for the next few years before we push on and break back into Europa League contention,” Nolan added.
“Who knows? It could be the Champions League three or four years down the line.”
Nolan’s representative is in talks over a new long-term deal for the midfielder, but an agreement is yet to be reached.