Ben Arfa keeps dreams in sight

PA Sport

Hatem Ben Arfa is refusing to give up on his dreams as he attempts to force his way into the Newcastle team.

The 24-year-old Frenchman's second half display as a substitute in Sunday's 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw with derby rivals Sunderland set Tyneside alight and served as a timely reminder of his talent, but the gifted former Marseille star is yet to fully establish himself in Alan Pardew's first-choice XI following an horrific double leg fracture.

Ben Arfa, who is desperate to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Eric Cantona, told France Football: "I see my ambitions the same now as at the start - to become one of the best."

He added: "Of course, I have lost a bit of time in my career, but, in my life, I have the impression I have gained some.

"Really, it is a shame that a career cannot be made between 24 and 40 years old because then I would have more chance.

"But let's see in three or four years. Then, I see myself at the top, winning, for example, the World Cup in Brazil or the Ballon D'Or, because I still have lots of dreams."

Ben Arfa's introduction as a half-time replacement for striker Papiss Cisse at the weekend gave the Magpies the invention and pace they needed to force Sunderland on to the back foot and ultimately pave the way for Shola Ameobi's last-gasp equaliser.

The Frenchman has started just nine games all season, and four of those were in the cup competitions, with Pardew struggling to get him into the system he wants to play. However, having seen him change the game on Sunday, the manager admitted he needs to do just that.

He said: "This guy is exceptional. I don't want fans to start thinking I don't think this is a good player. This player is special.

"We have got to get him on the pitch, I have got to find a way of getting him on the pitch to play like that, because if we can get him playing like that. That was his best 45 minutes. We have got 11 games to go and he could cause some real damage."

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