MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03: Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle takes gas as he goes off with an injured ankle during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at the City of Manchester Stadium on October 3, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Hatem Ben Arfa Makes Comeback From Double Leg Break

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Hatem Ben Arfa Makes Comeback From Double Leg Break, Back In Full Training

Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa has made his return to full training with the squad after missing six months with a broken leg. According to the French midfielder, he very nearly didn't make it at all after the leg became badly infected following surgery, leading to fears that doctors might be forced to amputate - obviously ending his career as a professional footballer. Fortunately, a second surgery was enough to save Ben Arfa's leg, and he's now re-joined the side after extensive rehab work in France.

Ben Arfa, 24, joined Newcastle over the summer from Lyon on loan and had only managed four appearances with Newcastle (scoring against Everton) before a Nigel de Jong tackle broke his right leg on October 3rd. Despite the injury and with his career in question, the Magpies made the deal permanent in January, which according to Ben Arfa has only motivated him to try harder for the club:

Newcastle showed me so much respect and a lot of love that I want to give back to them. I will give everything I can for this club because they trusted me and, for a human being, that is really touching.

It's unclear how quickly manager Alan Pardew will commit Ben Arfa back into the fray - Newcastle are in no danger of relegation this season and can afford to be relatively patient with him as he comes back from injury. There's no reason to take a risk that his healing isn't totally complete before having him make a comeback on the field.

For more on Ben Arfa and his return from injury, visit SB Nation's Newcastle blog, Coming Home Newcastle.

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Mark Van Bommel Says Nigel De Jong "Should Not Change His Game"

As the fall-out from Nigel de Jong breaking Hatem Ben Arfa’s leg grows, fall-out which includes the midfielder being dropped from his national team, it should come as no surprise that Netherlands teammate Mark van Bommel has been one of the first to defend his midfield partner.

The Bayern captain, today, called the de Jong controversy “very frustrating” and the two broken legs in six months caused by de Jong “very unfortunate.”

“But I know Nigel as a sweet guy. He doesn’t want to injure anyone but wants to win every match. That is his strength.

“Thanks to Nigel we reached the final of the World Cup. And now I hear people calling him a criminal. What a nonsense.”

While the response to de Jong’s actions has been strong, I haven’t heard many (read: any) label him a criminal. At the same time, van Bommel’s comments remind everybody not to get too carried away with the vilification of de Jong. His strawman may be inaccurate, but implicitly, it’s saying “if you’re saying things like this, you’re going too far.” De Jong’s a good guy whose unconsciously doing bad things, van Bommel seems to be saying.

There is, of course, an irony to van Bommel’s statements. If there is one person in the modern game you would expect to have a jaded view of acceptable play, it’s Mark van Bommel, a player who accumulated nearly universal scorn for his borderline-legal tactics during the World Cup.

As most know, Van Bommel’s antics transcend the World Cup. Last season in the Bundesliga, he had 11 yellow cards. The year before, he accumulated 11 yellow cards.

With that in mind, de Jong should think rather than blindly follow van Bommel’s advise:

“Nigel should not change his game, we need him as he is.

“But maybe he should occasionally go into a tackle slightly differently.”

So Nigel should not change is game. But he should.

As with the aggression he shows in what he thinks should be unpunished tackles, van Bommel seems to want it both ways.

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Hatem Ben Arfa Has Successful Surgery On Broken Tibia, Fibula

Newcastle United’s Hatem Ben Arfa was diagnosed with breaks to his tibia and fibula, injuries resulting from a Sunday tackle from Manchester City’s Nigel de Jong. Today, the French international underwent successful surgery to repair the breaks, with manager Chris Hughton labeling the procedure as a success.

Newcastle manager Chris Hughton said: "I am delighted to hear that the operation was a success.

“Now it’s just a case of nursing him back to fitness. I am sure he will make a full and speedy recovery.”

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Nigel De Jong Dropped By Netherlands In Response To Hatem Ben Arfa Leg Break

The first blow-back against Nigel de Jong has come from an unexpected source, one which had underwritten some of the midfielder’s previous, aggressive behavior.

After breaking Hatem Ben Arfa’s leg on Sunday, de Jong has been dropped by Netherlands’ coach Bert van Marwijk from the nation’s upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Van Marwijk, the same coach who orchestrated a Netherlands World Cup final performance that set a record for most bookings by a team in a final, has said, in a statement released by the Royal Dutch FA, he felt he had “no alternative” than to cut de Jong.

The Netherlands face Moldova on Friday before returning home for next week’s match with group-leading Sweden, but van Marwijk’s actions raise a number of questions, particularly given de Jong’s previous two high-profile incidents have come while wearing the Oranje.

In March, de Jong broke Stuart Holden’s leg in a tackle that was arguably as bad as the one on Ben Arfa. At the time, the Netherlands was silent, and when Xabi Alonso took an elevated kick to his sternum, the Dutch team defended the approach enveloping the blow.

Now de Jong is being punished – being punished for something that didn’t occur under the Dutch FA’s watch, and while today’s a difficult day to take up de Jong’s cause, it’s not hard to see van Marwijk’s decision as curious.

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Video: Newcastle Manager Chris Hughton Says Nigel De Jong Challenge On Hatem Ben Arfa "Didn't Need To Be Made"

Describing the challenge on Hatem Ben Arfa one "that didn't need to be made," Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton said his dressing room's thoughts were with his injured attacker, who had been taken to a local Manchester hospital for what was suspected to be a broken left leg.

Hughton also said that Fabricio Collocini felt a slight twinge in his groin, hence taking him out of the match in the first half.

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Video: Hatem Ben Afra Injured In Tackle By Nigel De Jong

While Hatem Ben Ara's injury will only add to Nigel de Jong's growing reputation as a midfield enforcer, video of today's tackle at Eastlands shows an aggressive but not necessarily dirty play:

Whether this kind of aggressive - and the disregard it may show for other's safety - is dirty is the heart of the debate surrounding this style of play. Michael Essien, not thought a dirty player, had arguably a worse tackle on Abou Diaby in the Chelsea-Arsenal match. Neither man was punished, and Diaby went uninjured.

Perhaps de Jong (and Ben Arfa) were unlucky that this challenge resulted in a potentially serious injury.

You decide, and let us know. Let the comments be your voice. Was the de Jong tackle dirty? Or merely "hard-nosed?"

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Hatem Ben Arfa's Leg Feared Broken After Nigel De Jong Challenge

Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton fears attacker Hatem Ben Arfa, who left the Magpies' Sunday match after seven minutes, has suffered a broken leg, according to reports out of Manchester.

The Marseille loanee was on the bad end of a Nigel De Jong, third minute challenge, immediately collapsing as the Dutch midfielder slid into his legs. De Jong's boot caught the French international's leg, the attacker eventually stretched from the pitch while receiving oxygen.

Immediately taken to a local hospital, Ben Arfa's injury left Hughton convinced his player had suffered a broken leg:

Hughton says "at the moment, it seems as if it’s a broken leg. Whether it’s the tibia or the fibula, we will have to confirm that."

De Jong's challenge was the second noteworthy tackle of the weekend, with Karl Henry being sent-off at The DW Stadium after sliding through Jordi Gomez. Gomez was not hurt in the collision.

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