Ben Arfa blow for Newcastle

BY foxsports • December 17, 2012

Brendan Rodgers plans to give Liverpool teenager Raheem Sterling a rest despite the impending Christmas programme.

The manager felt fatigue played a part in Saturday's home defeat to Aston Villa, and Sterling has featured 25 times already in his first season as a regular.

Now Rodgers wants to avoid overplaying the 18-year-old, whose form has earned him international honours with England.

"There is no doubt Raheem is one who does need that breather," he told the club website.

"I've thought about it over the past couple of weeks. In order to do that you need to have that depth to take him out and put somebody else in.

"That's something I'm thinking about - who to put in. He's a naturally very, very fit boy but he needs that mental rest as well. That time will come and he will get the breather soon enough.

"Joe Allen is another one. If we're honest, there are a few who could do with that breather, especially mentally. It's something for sure I need to have a wee look at."

One player set to play throughout the Christmas period is Luis Suarez. Rodgers said: "He's at his best when he is playing regularly."

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The 25-year-old France international missed Saturday's 3-1 Premier League defeat by Manchester City after aggravating a hamstring injury and Pardew has admitted his absence is likely to be extended.

He said: "Hatem looks like he is going to miss the next two or three with the injury he has got. We can't risk him."

Ben Arfa suffered the original damage during the 1-1 Europa League draw with Maritimo at St James' Park on November 22 and sat out the following four games as a result.

He returned and scored in the 2-1 defeat at Fulham on December 10, but later reported discomfort in the hamstring and fearing an escalation, Pardew has decided to rest him fully in a bid to avoid a much lengthier lay-off.

Ben Arfa is likely to miss Saturday's vital home clash with QPR, who finally recorded their first win of the campaign at the weekend, and the daunting Boxing Day trip to Manchester United as well as the visit to Arsenal three days later.

The Frenchman has been one of the few Magpies to have produced his top form this season and his loss is a significant blow to a manager who has seen his side defeated in six of its last seven league games.

His unavailability, coupled with those of central defender Steven Taylor and midfield playmaker Yohan Cabaye, has come at just the wrong time with the club sitting precariously just two points above the relegation zone ahead of a testing run of fixtures.

Pardew will at least have no fresh fitness concerns ahead of the QPR game with the rest of his squad having emerged unscathed from their ultimately fruitless second-half fightback against City.

He said: "I think that will be our squad, hopefully - we don't want to lose anyone. We have got a clean bill of health and that's a bonus in itself.

"Cheick [Tiote] was on a booking to miss QPR and I didn't want that, so I did take him off as a bit of a precaution for that.

"But the squad that played [on Saturday] is good enough. No excuses - if that team plays like that against QPR, I think we will win - with all due respect to QPR - and that's how we are going to have to play."


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