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Frenchman went on strike when OM blocked his transfer request

Chris Hughton has dismissed the negative reports about Hatem Ben Arfa's personality and insists he will answer his critics with performances on the pitch.

The 23-year-old made his first start for Newcastle United in last Saturday's Premier League trip to Everton, and his superb strike secured all three points for the visitors.

But the Frenchman’s move to Tyneside was clouded in his home nation after he refused to train with and play for his parent club Marseille, a decision which Laurent Blanc, France’s manager, felt was worthy of excluding the attacker from a call-up for the last round of Euro 2012 qualifiers.

"Of course I am aware of the things that have been said about him, but this is a wonderful opportunity for the lad,” Hughton told reporters.

"Right through this, he showed a great desire to come here. You have got to make sure you put them into an environment that is as healthy as possible and competitive as possible.

"You can only deal with situations as they arise. I am very, very aware of that, but he is a lad who has been very popular since the first couple of days he came in. Certainly, I wouldn't anticipate any problems."

Ben Arfa made his debut against Blackpool and showed immediate promise with his blend of pace and attacking guile, and Hughton believes his latest acquisition has the ability to replicate those performances on a regular basis.

"As with all gifted players, it's how you use them in the team and the work ethic they have and what they can produce on the football pitch [that matters],” said Hughton.

"But the one thing that doesn't change - the most important thing is always going to be the team.

"Whether it be a gifted Ben Arfa or a player who perhaps plays in a little bit of a different role, it doesn't make any difference, what they have got to do is work hard for the football team.

"We have been absolutely delighted with him so far."

Newcastle host Stoke City on Sunday and Hughton has high praise for his opposite number Tony Pulis.

"He [Pulis] is a manager for whom I have the utmost respect. If I look at what Stoke have achieved in recent years, it is certainly down to Tony and what he has brought to the club.

"He has done an absolutely magnificent job. But he is one who has worked at it, he is not one who has come overnight.

"He has worked through the divisions and got great experience and a great wealth of knowledge when it comes to football."

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