English Premier League

Ben Arfa: Fan backing helped

Friday 27th December 2013 9:26

Hatem Ben Arfa: Has had to be patient in his pursuit of a starting berth

Hatem Ben Arfa: Has had to be patient in his pursuit of a starting berth

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Hatem Ben Arfa is grateful for the support he received from Newcastle United fans during his time stuck on the bench.

The Frenchman accepts that the strength in depth which now exists at St James' Park means he will not start every week.

He has no complaints at filling a squad role, with the collective cause of greater importance than individual ambitions.

Ben Arfa has had to be patient in his pursuit of recognition, though, with a 5-1 victory over Stoke City on Boxing Day seeing him drafted back into Alan Pardew's starting XI for the first time in almost two months.

The highly-rated forward grabbed his opportunity with both hands and believes he is a stronger player - mentally and physically - for having spent a spell on the sidelines.

Ben Arfa said in the Shields Gazette: "We're very happy. We won, which is the most important thing.

"And I was very happy to be on the pitch. I hadn't started for two months, and I gave all my energy.

"Every time I came on, I tried to do my best. The crowd supported me when I was on the bench, and that made me stronger.

"I want to say thank you to them. Even when I was on the bench, they supported me. They give you confidence and strength.

"I'm very happy, but the most important thing was that we won."

On the competition for places at Newcastle, he added: "We have a big squad. We have very good players on the bench and on the pitch. That's very important for us.

"Everybody contributes. The spirit is important. When somebody is on the bench, he still motivates us in the dressing room. Everybody is together."

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