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Ben Arfa ruled out for season

Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa has been ruled out for the rest of the season as he requires surgery on a hamstring problem.

Last Updated: 15/03/13 at 16:28 Post Comment   

The Frenchman returned to action in the first leg of United's Europa League last-16 tie with Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala after 12 weeks out.

But Ben Arfa lasted only 64 minutes of that game and missed the second leg clash at St James' Park on Thursday night, where Newcastle progressed to face Benfica in the quarter-finals after a last-gasp Papiss Cisse goal gave them a 1-0 win over Anzhi.

Ben Arfa is not expected back until pre-season training for the 2013/14 campaign, with Newcastle manager Alan Pardew confirming he will not be rushed back sooner, even if they qualify for the Europa League final.

"It's a shame for Hatem because we went down this process of not operating on it, and I think now that's an option that we might need to take," said Pardew.

"But we can't now put him at risk. Even if it was to get to a Europa League final, I don't think that's going to be the case.

"We need to look to next year for him and just go forward together knowing we haven't got him on board."

Pardew admitted they miss the quality he offers but insists they have a strong enough squad to cope without him.

"He gives us that X-factor. In a game like last night's where he could open the door for us, we haven't got that luxury," added Pardew.

"Unfortunately for Hatem, that's the news that he didn't want to hear.

"But as far as we are concerned, the team has responded well in his absence and hopefully, we do that until the end of the year."

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

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