De Jong seeks Ben Arfa meeting

The Frenchman suffered a double leg fracture in a challenge by the

Holland international the last time they went head-to-head on the

pitch at the Etihad Stadium in October last year. Ben Arfa has only

just returned to action and manager Alan Pardew on Thursday sat him

down to ask him if the psychological impact of returning to the

scene of his agonising misfortune was a concern. Pardew said on

Thursday: “I had a conversation with him this morning about it

because I think you could carry some demons when you have an injury

like that. “But he was absolutely clear to me this morning that he

has no problem about going back there, no problem about facing

their particular player. “The player has contacted him, which I

appreciate as the manager of the other team, and he wants to see

Hatem. We have said after the game would be a good time, not

before. “Hopefully, that will then come to rest. “At the time, I

thought – and I wasn’t the manager at the time – it was a bad

tackle, but they do happen in the game and unfortunately Hatem

suffered a severe injury. “What I do know is, a year down the line

– and it has taken that long – he is back somewhere near his best,

and that’s good news for us.” Ben Arfa could find himself involved

as the Premier League leaders entertain the surprise occupants of

third place with Leon Best struggling to shake off a groin problem.

However, there will be no place for compatriot Sylvain Marveaux.

The winger, like Best, suffered a groin injury during the 2-1

victory over Everton on November 5, and is now facing surgery which

will sideline him for some time. Pardew said: “He will have an

operation this week, probably. That could be a while.” The Magpies

boss was holding his first press conference since the club’s

announcement that they are to press ahead with controversial plans

to sell the naming rights to their stadium. Pardew admitted he

understood the outcry which followed from certain quarters, but

insisted nothing substantial will change. He said: “For the

traditionalists amongst our fans, I think it’s something they are

upset at. “But it is still in the same place and it’s still the

Gallowgate End and we still have your tradition of walking to the

stadium from the centre of town. It’s there where it is. “On the

other side of the coin, of course, commercially, it will attract a

big sponsor, we hope, and give us extra revenue to go forward. “I

can understand the arguments on both sides. For me and the playing

staff, of course, it is our home and we love playing there. “We

have done very, very well there this season and we hope to continue

that and really, it hasn’t affected us too much if I am honest.

“Clubs have to move on and I hope our fans understand that. But

they will still be in their same seats roaring us on. “The memories

of that stadium are still there, and that’s important. When you

move grounds, that’s a little bit different.” Meanwhile, the club

on Thursday confirmed that 19-year-old England Under-21

international Sammy Ameobi, the younger brother of striker Shola,

has signed a new three and a half-year contract. Pardew said: “He

has progressed into what I would consider a first-team squad

player, and now he wants a first-team shirt. “The timing of the

Under-21 call-up was a bit concerning because he hadn’t signed his

deal, and you know what some of the top clubs are like. “But he has

signed it today and we are really, really pleased.”