The former Marseille man sustained a badly broken leg in October last year and has had some slight mishaps along the way, but ahead of tonight’s Carling Cup clash with Blackburn Rovers, Pardew expects him to soon be at his absolute best.
"He is going to be important in these type of games because he can unlock a door,” he told the Chronicle.
"He can do that at any level. In terms of passes and clever moments, he showed that in little flashes against Wigan (on the weekend).
"Hatem is at a much better level than he has ever been since I've been at the football club.
"So we're hoping that he will start featuring."