Ben Arfa: I could have lost a leg
The 24-year-old returned to Tyneside last night after doing the bulk of his rehabilitation in France, and was able to warm-up with the rest of the squad this morning before going off to work by himself once again. Ben Arfa told the club's official website: "It is great to back in Newcastle and back with the lads. "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." Ben Arfa also revealed he required emergency surgery to save his leg. Quoted in several newspapers, he said: "I needed a second operation because I had an infection. It was a big infection which could have been very dangerous. "I was told that I could have had my leg cut off if they didn't operate on me very quickly." Ben Arfa is now hoping to return as soon as possible, although whether or not that happens this season remains to be seen. The midfielder was on loan from Marseille when the injury happened and, although he had made only four appearances at that point, the club had seen enough for new manager Alan Pardew to complete a permanent move for him in January. "The club gave me much respect, much love," the France international said. "I want to do a lot for this club because they gave me great confidence. For a human being, that's huge. It touched me." Newcastle head for Aston Villa on Sunday having all but completed the task of securing their Premier League status with seven games still to play, and if they can complete the job quickly, Pardew may decide it is not worth risking Ben Arfa before the new campaign gets under way.