Ben Arfa warned he must improve to earn his place

Hatem Ben Arfa will be sent out at St James’ Park today with the demand to do more to prove he deserves a place in Newcastle’s starting line-up

Hatem Ben Arfa
Hatem Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa will be sent out at St James’ Park today with the demand to do more to prove he deserves a place in Newcastle’s starting line-up.

The France winger is Alan Pardew’s only confirmed starter for the FA Cup third round clash with Cardiff, and the United boss wants to see him put on a performance that justifies the adoration of the Newcastle supporters. Pardew only rates his recent cameos as “okay”, and has suggested that he will need to prove himself before nailing down a starting spot in his Newcastle team.

“The only one I’ll confirm as playing is Hatem. He will definitely start,” he said.

“Our fans have been desperate for him to start, but having said that, in the cameos he’s had, I only think he’s done okay. That’s my opinion.

“He needs to really get a good game under his belt if he’s going to force his way into the Premier League team and this is a great opportunity for him and he’s the only one that at this stage I’m going to say is definitely playing.”

The all Premier League meeting between the two sides has been given extra spice by the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to the Cardiff hot-seat, replacing Pardew’s friend Malky McKay.

“We had a good game but they’ve changed their manager,” he said.

“Malky was a good friend of mine and my old captain at West Ham United and I was sad to see him go but the relationship had got to a point where it wasn’t going to continue and I understand that.

“I’ve been in that position myself. Malky’s moved on and we have Olly in charge.

“He’s been in the background for a Premier League job for a while because he’s done such a terrificjob abroad and now he comes tothe Premier League and I welcome him.”

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