Newcastle United briefing: Watch Shola Ameobi speak at the House of Lords, Islam Slimani 'risk'

Will he or won't he play?

Wednesday, 21st March 2018, 11:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st March 2018, 11:05 am
Rafa Benitez

That question is being asked about Islam Slimani ahead of Algeria's games against Tanzania and Iran.

The striker, signed on loan from Leicester City in January, is yet to make his Newcastle United debut, having arrived with a thigh problem.

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But Slimani still went away with Algeria, and he could yet play in one or both of their fixtures.

Here's your daily briefing:

Risky business

Slimani sat out Sunday's friendly against Royal Antwerp in Spain.

Rafa Benitez

The 29-year-old had been restricted to gym work ahead of the 135-minute fixture, which ended 1-1.

United manager Rafa Benitez feels that it will be a "risk" if Slimani plays, though the decision will be down to the player and his international coach Rabah Madjer.

"What we have to do and what we want to do is be sure that he's fit," said Benitez. "And if he can play with the national team a little bit, that is a risk, because he's not playing for us.

"But if they decide to play him, it is because he will be fit. Hopefully, he won't have any problems."

Islam Slimani

Madjer, however, has moved to reassure Benitez, who is focused on the March 31 home game against Huddersfield Town.

He said: “Islam trains normally, but if there is a risk, if he cannot play, we will preserve it for his interest and the interest of his club.”

Waiting game

Isaac Hayden was keener than most of his team-mates to get some minutes in the Antwerp game.

Rafa Benitez

The midfielder has found his opportunities limited by the form of Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame in recent weeks.

Hayden, however, has "no complaints".

"It’s been difficult to get in the starting XI as the lads have been doing really well, so I can’t have any complaints at the minute that I haven’t been playing," said the 22-year-old.

Read our interview with Hayden here.

No regrets

Grant Hanley says he has “no regrets” about his move to Newcastle.

Islam Slimani

Hanley left the club last summer after spending only a year at St James’s Park following a £5million move from Blackburn Rovers.

The 26-year-old – who made five starts for the club during its Championship-winning campaign – joined Norwich City.

Hanley, signed by United manager Rafa Benitez for his experience of English football’s second tier, has impressed at Carrow Road this season.

“I’ve no regrets about joining Newcastle when I look back on it now,” said Hanley, who has been recalled to the Scotland squad for games against Costa Rica and Hungary.

“You make your decisions and you live by them. It never worked out for me, I didn’t play as much as I would have liked to. These things happen in football, and it’s just important that you learn from those kind of experiences. Then you move on and make yourself better for it."

And finally...

The Newcastle United Foundation held an event at the House of Lords yesterday to celebrate its 10th anniversary and outline it's ambitious plans for the future.

The independent, which works with 50,000 young people in the North East every year, has revealed ambitious plans for a new sports and education hub close to St James's Park.

Former players Shola Ameobi and Steve Harper were among those who spoke at the lunch, which was hosted by former triple jumper and Foundation patron Jonathan Edwards.

Click on the video above to watch Ameobi speak at the event.