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French winger returns to light training after recovering from injury sustained following a much-criticised Nigel de Jong tackle in October

Newcastle could be boosted by the return of winger Hatem Ben Arfa before the end of the season according to boss Alan Pardew.

The 24-year-old joined the Magpies on loan from Marseille in August but was only able to make four appearances before injury cut short his season against Manchester City in October.

A challenge from City midfielder Nigel de Jong saw Ben Arfa suffer a double leg break and it was feared he would not feature again this season.

However Pardew has revealed he could make a surprise return for United’s run-in against Birmingham, West Brom and Chelsea.

The winger may have only made a handful of appearance but he did enough to impress everyone at St James’ Park and signed for the club permanently in January, with Pardew hoping to play the Frenchman before the end of the current campaign after he returned to training.

"He has certainly been working this week,” Pardew said.

“We think actually the last three games is a possibility and we are just going to leave it at that, featuring him in some part of those three."

The winger told the club’s official website that after a tough time out with injury he was happy to be back amongst the first team and hoped to be out on the pitch again very soon.

"It is great to be back in Newcastle and back with the lads,” he said.

"I joined in with the warm-up this morning and managed to do a bit of light training on my own, and it was good to see the rest of the players after such a long time.

"I will be continuing to follow my rehabilitation programme now I am back in Newcastle, and would like to thank the fans for their support while I have been out injured.

"It has been a difficult period without football, but I am pleased with how my recovery has gone and look forward to pulling on a black and white shirt again and getting back onto the St. James' Park pitch."

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