• Team-mates question 27-year-old's work-rate
• Alan Pardew: 'He has to gain their trust'
Hatem Ben Arfa must regain the trust of Alan Pardew and his team-mates if he is to have a future at Newcastle United.
In terms of sheer talent the France creator is undeniably Pardew's most gifted individual but he has frequently been omitted from Newcastle's first XI this season as he struggles to find form and fitness.
It is understood that a group of senior players at St James' Park have expressed annoyance at Ben Arfa's lack of work-rate and discipline and have made it clear they do not believe he currently merits a starting place in Pardew's first team. While they acknowledge the 27-year-old's ability with the ball at his feet such critics feel he can be a liability when possession is lost.
Ben Arfa may be given a chance to start changing their minds if John Carver – deputising for Pardew while Newcastle's manager serves his three-game stadium ban for head-butting Hull's David Meyler – brings him off the bench at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.
"Hatem needs a good finish to the season for a number of reasons and he's aware of that," said Pardew, who was disappointed that the player missed the squad's recent bonding break in Abu Dhabi.
"If he's going to play, he has to gain the trust of not just me but of our players that he's the real deal. We've given him a fitness programme because, in the last few games he played for us, he didn't play very well by his own admission. His confidence is a little low and his fitness was a bit low for whatever reason.
"But we've got some extra work into him and he looks a little bit more confident. He's not ready to play and start this game but he will be on the bench on Saturday."
Whether Ben Arfa will still be a Newcastle player next season is another matter entirely. "I haven't got a view on that," said Pardew. "The bottom line with Hatem is that he needs to get the balance right between delivering for us in an offensive way and for us to be able to keep the discipline of the team intact with him in the side. Hatem needs to deliver. He needs to produce assists and goals for us."
Not that Newcastle's manager has completely lost faith with a crowd favourite, capable at his best of lifting the team to a different level. "I've not lost patience with Hatem. I don't think I've ever done that with any player," said Pardew. "Hatem's in a pool of players that you can ask, 'Is he going to be a success here?' If they show that they're going to be a success, then they stay. If not, then we'll move them on."
With the previously inventive Yohan Cabaye now a Paris St-Germain player and the QPR loanee striker Loïc Rémy – who scores the majority of Newcastle's goals – once again sidelined by injury for Palace's visit, Pardew could certainly do with Ben Arfa returning to his improvisational, incisive best.
If part of the problem is that it is unclear whether he is best suited to a No10 role floating behind the principal striker or deployment on the wing, Ben Arfa has never really played well since sustaining a hamstring tear which sidelined him for much of last season and eventually required surgery.