sport

Pardew challenges Ben Arfa

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has challenged Hatem Ben Arfa to show he is the real deal between now and the end of the season.

The French midfielder has returned to the squad for the visit of Crystal Palace on Saturday after missing the last three games through injury and personal concerns.

Amid speculation the player could be sold in the summer, Pardew denies he has lost patience with the 27-year-old but concedes he must up his game to regain the trust of everyone at the club.

The Newcastle boss told the Daily Star: "I've not lost patience with him but Hatem has to gain the trust of not just me but our players and fans.

"He has to show he's the real deal if he's going to play. In the short term, we've given him a fitness programme because by his own admission, he didn't play well in his last few games.

Low confidence

"His confidence is a little low and his fitness, for whatever reason, wasn't quite there.

"He's missed six days with a family illness so we've got some extra work into him and he looks a little better.

"Hatem needs a good finish to the season and he's aware of that for a number of reasons."

Pardew says Ben Arfa has to get the balance right between his offensive play and helping the Magpies to keep it tight.

"The bottom line with Hatem is if he's getting assists and goals, then it all balances out," he said.

"He needs to get the balance right between delivering for us in an offensive way and the team keeping its discipline intact with him in the side. If he isn't doing it, then it isn't balancing out."