Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Ben Arfa boost for Newcastle

Hatem Ben Arfa

Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa trained with his team-mates for the first time since suffering an horrific double leg fracture.

The 24-year-old returned to Tyneside on Tuesday night after doing the bulk of his rehabilitation in France, and was able to warm-up with the rest of the squad on Wednesday morning before going off to work by himself once again.

Ben Arfa told the club's official website, www.nufc.co.uk: "It is great to back in Newcastle and back with the lads."

He added: "I joined in with the warm-up this morning and managed to do a bit of light training on my own, and it was good to see the rest of the players after such a long time. I will be continuing to follow my rehabilitation programme now I am back in Newcastle, and would like to thank the fans for their support while I have been out injured.

"It has been a difficult period without football, but I am pleased with how my recovery has gone and look forward to pulling on a black and white shirt again and getting back onto the St James' Park pitch."

The France international has been sidelined since fracturing both his tibia and fibula in a challenge with Manchester City's Nigel de Jong on October 3 last year. He had surgery to repair the initial damage, and then a second operation after an infection threatened to cost him his leg.

Ben Arfa has called for tougher punishments on dangerous tackles

He accepted a texted apology from De Jong - who escaped without a yellow card at the time - but wants stricter measures in order to avoid a repeat.

He told Canal Plus: "I do not really understand English. But in his text, he told me he did not intend to hurt me and he was sorry. I told him it was okay, it was football.

"Anyway, the problem is that there was not even fault. I think he can get away with anything if there are no sanctions. I do not want to come down on the referees, but we still have to protect players a little more so if he wants to tackle like this again he thinks twice."