Newcastle United No2 John Carver has revealed the reasons behind Hatem Ben Arfa form slump.

Newcastle's France international has been on compassionate leave due to his mother's ill health. Thankfully she is on the mend, though the time he has spent absent from training restricted Ben Arfa to a cameo role for victory over Crystal Palace.

That was still ample time to make a telling contribution, the inconsistent midfielder having benefited from a heart-to heart with Carver, who used the experience of recently losing his father to positive effect.

"You've got to cuddle him," Carver insisted. "You've got to get inside Hatem's head. He's a nice guy and we had a real conversation about family life, nothing to do with football. That brought us closer."

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