One more reason to get HBA on the pitch: There are no photos of him in our database. Caption contest?
Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa has reported to training like all of the other Toon players, and with questions surrounding his health status following a brutal double leg fracture at the hands of Nigel De Jong, he sat down with the club's official website to do his best to assuage fears of a prolonged rehabilitation:
It was a very serious injury, of course, and took a long time to recover from - but I'm 100 per cent fit now. A lot of my recovery was done at Clairefontaine, the French football centre, where I was under the control of the doctor who did the operation back in October. I also came back to Newcastle for various updates with the club's medical staff here, then back to Clairefontaine to continue the recovery. And I managed to get a couple of breaks in as well, because you need that to keep the morale going. And now I'm no longer under the doctor, so all the hard work has paid off. It was a very, very difficult few months and I'm really happy that now it's all over and I can get cracking. I'm really eager to get back.
It's great to hear that HBA has declared himself "100 percent fit," of course, and if it's true that he's no longer under the care of any doctors then the average supporter shouldn't have any need to worry. Still, it would be nice if he could get a run out during that first preseason fixture at Darlington on the 15th to further ease the public's mind. The next question after match fitness naturally becomes how he's doing between the ears, because you'd hate to see such a talent wasted because of timidity.
Ben Arfa also stopped to comment on some of Newcastle's new signings, predictably praising Sylvain Marveaux and the other French arrivals. Even before HBA steps on the pitch in 2011, he's been a net positive for the club by virtue of persuading several of his countrymen that Newcastle is the place to be. The hope, of course, is that he can do just as much between the lines, which it sounds like he is on his way to doing.