Hatem Ben Arfa return sets up 'mouth-watering' Newcastle side, says Alan Pardew

Hatem Ben Arfa: Closing in on a return to action after injury lay-off

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Alan Pardew is excited by the options he will have at his disposal when everybody is fit as he looks forward to welcoming Hatem Ben Arfa back into the Newcastle United side.

Ben Arfa is working his way back following a hamstring problem and could be in contention for the clash with Southampton at St James' Park on 24th February.

Pardew has few other injury concerns and now has a strong squad to choose from after bringing in a number of players last month, including Ben Arfa's fellow Frenchman Yoan Gouffran.

"You'd like to think with Yoan on one side, Ben Arfa on the other and Moussa Sissoko and (Papiss) Cisse through the middle - blimey, that's mouth-watering for us," Pardew said.

"I think there's a possibility Hatem will be back for the next home game.

"You put Cheick Tiote and Sissoko in there and we have got a really, really good side if we can get it out on the pitch.

"Unfortunately this year we haven't even come close to getting it out there. This is actually the closest I've come to putting my strongest side out.

"It does excite me, it really does. I really looked forward to the next game and I've not done that all year."

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