Hatem Ben Arfa to be handed cameo role for Newcastle against Benfica

• Winger can play as torn hamstring diagnosed as scar tissue
• Newcastle aim to overturn 3-1 Europa League first-leg defeat

Hatem Ben Arfa has given his Newcastle United team-mates a psychological fillip ahead of Thursday's Europa League quarter-final second leg against Benfica.

Alan Pardew has pencilled in the France international, his most creative individual, for a cameo role at St James' Park on Thursday evening as Newcastle aim to overturn their 3-1 first-leg defeat in Lisbon last week.

Only a few weeks ago Ben Arfa was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a torn hamstring which looked as if it needed to be repaired by surgery but, after consultations with three specialists, the latest verdict is that the sole problem is scar tissue, which should not prove an impediment to playing.

If Benfica are unhappy about Ben Arfa's unexpected return Jorge Jesus's side are at least still facing a significantly weakened Newcastle. The Portuguese League leaders – undefeated in 31 games in all competitions – do not have to contend with a key home quintet in Steven Taylor, Davide Santon, Fabricio Coloccini, Cheik Tioté and Massadio Haïdara who are all sidelined by injury. Meanwhile, Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran are ineligible.

Only Barcelona and Spartak Moscow have beaten Benfica this season and Newcastle's task is exacerbated by the need to win by two clear goals on Thurday.

"There's only one team which has beaten them by two clear goals this season and that's Barcelona," said Pardew. "So that's the size of the task, we are under no illusions.

"That's the quality we are up against. I don't think there are going to be many better sides that have played here than Benfica. They have a slightly different style to a Premier League team. They have some fantastic technical players; [Nicolás] Gaitán, Rodrigo, [Oscar] Cardozo and [Rodrigo] Lima.

"They have a real, real threat on the counter-attack, and the game could easily get away from us, so we have got to be very much on our guard that we approach it in the right manner and give ourselves a chance.

"But even if we are still two goals down with 10 minutes to go I would still feel confident about us, with the potential we have in the group and the way I can affect things from the bench."

It helps that Ben Arfa is available to assist. "Hatem's made an unbelievable recovery," said Pardew, who hopes Taylor's knee will have recovered in time for Sunday's derby at home to Sunderland. "Hatem will be involved and he is somebody who can turn the game. I have an asset that has come back to me, maybe just in time."

Papiss Cissé – who scored in Lisbon before twice hitting the post – hopes to extend his recent habit of scoring late, decisive goals. The Senegal striker has latterly registered last- gasp winners against Stoke, Anzhi and Fulham.

"I tell myself that as long as the referee hasn't blown his whistle, the game isn't over," said Cissé. "There's always a chance – and I'm ready to score at any moment."

This penchant for leaving it late is no good for Pardew's blood pressure. "I keep telling Papiss to try to score before the 92nd minute – it's becoming ridiculous," said Newcastle's manager. "But he's a special striker and a big threat to Benfica."

Newcastle United (4-2-3-1, probable): Krul; Simpson, Perch, Yanga-Mbiwa, Gutiérrez; Anita, Cabaye; Obertan, Sissoko, Marveaux; Cissé.

Benfica (4-1-3-2, probable): Artur; Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Garay, Melgarejo; Matic; Salvio, Enzo Pérez, Gaitán; Rodrigo, Cardozo.

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