Pardew content to take it slow with Ben Arfa

Alan Pardew is not ready to unleash Hatem Ben Arfa fully as he attempts to guide weary Newcastle over the Barclays Premier League finishing line.

hatem ben arfa

The Magpies slipped back on to the fringes of the battle for top-flight survival as a result of Sunday's unexpected 3-0 derby defeat by Sunderland three days after their Europa League quarter-final exit at the hands of Benfica.

Pardew later admitted that some of his players had simply run out of energy as a result of the gruelling demands placed upon a tight squad which has been repeatedly stretched by injuries.

However, while Newcastle head for West Brom tomorrow looking for a win which would all but end their fears of being sucked into the thick of the mire below them, Ben Arfa, who masterminded a 3-1 victory at the Hawthorns last season, is likely only to be involved from the bench.

Asked if the mercurial Frenchman was ready to start a game after two appearances as a substitute following his return from a troublesome hamstring injury, the manager said: "No, I don't think so.

"He's working hard. He is somebody we are trying to manage and make sure we don't lose him for the last five games.

"We are trying to manage him very cleverly and get the best out of him."

Pardew has attracted criticism in the wake of the derby debacle for citing fatigue and injuries as reasons for a drab performance in a season which has largely failed to live up to expectations after last year's top-five league finish.

In his defence, a squad which was belatedly strengthened in January has struggled to cope with the demands of European football and a casualty list which this week claimed keeper Tim Krul with a dislocated shoulder and utility man Ryan Taylor after a recurrence of his cruciate ligament injury.

Pardew said: "I have never in my career at any level had an injury-plagued season like we have had.

"Whether you put that down to the extra games or sometimes you just get a run like that in any particular season, but it's coincided with our inclusion in the Europa League and it's put a real lot of pressure on us, even with the additions we had in in January."

Pardew will also be without hamstring victim Cheick Tiote and fellow midfielder Sylvain Marveaux, who has a groin problem, at West Brom, where he knows the points total needs to start ticking over once again if the club is to avoid an uncomfortable conclusion to the campaign.

He said: "The target for us at the moment is to get 40 points as quickly as possible, and that will be the target of any team in the bottom half, for sure.

"If you get a win, then suddenly you can look at the top 10 because it is that tight, but certainly as we speak today, we need to secure some points."

It has been a tough week on Tyneside as Newcastle have had to try to come to terms with, at least in recent years, a rare derby defeat.

However, Pardew is already plotting his revenge.

He said: "It was a great day for Sunderland and it was, for us, a tough day.

"But I would rather play and give it a good go in the quarter-final of the Europa League, and they can only dream of that.

"Next year, there's always another game - and you know, in these games an in a managerial career, you get setbacks that are really not nice that you have to carry.

"For us, it's done, it's history, we can't change it. We have to always carry it, like they have all the defeats we have put on them, so we will move on."

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