sport

Pardew challenges Ben Arfa

Alan Pardew has challenged midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa to rise to the battle for a starting place in the Newcastle side.

The 26-year-old has started just one of the Magpies' last 10 Premier League games due to the good form of compatriots Yoan Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko.

But Newcastle boss Pardew has backed the Frenchman to step up to the challenge as he seeks regular action to show off his skills in a World Cup year.

Pardew told the Daily Express: "First, he has to get in front of Gouffran and Sissoko and that isn't going to be easy because they have been brilliant.

"But I have no worries about Hatem.

"I think he's in great shape. I honestly thought he could win it for us (in the last game) against Arsenal after I brought him off the bench.

"Unfortunately for him after about two minutes of coming on, we conceded.

"He is an exciting player and we have always had a history of that here.

"But at the moment, he is trying to get a team place and he's fighting two very good players to get there."