Rafa Benitez reacts to Islam Slimani's Algeria call-up as the Newcastle striker waits on his debut

Islam Slimani will be given a late fitness test ahead of Sunday's friendly against Royal Antwerp.

Friday, 16th March 2018, 4:23 pm
Updated Friday, 16th March 2018, 5:10 pm
Rafa Benitez

The striker has been sidelined by a groin injury since joining Newcastle United on loan in January.

Slimani has an outside chance of being involved in the friendly, which is being staged in Spain.

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The 29-year-old will then link up with Algeria ahead of their internationals against Tanzania and Iran.

Slimani could make his Premier League debut for Newcastle against Huddersfield Town at St James's Park on March 31.

Asked if Slimani would be involved against Antwerp, United manager Rafa Benitez said: "It depends on tomorrow. We're monitoring him, and he's doing well, but it depends on how close he is and how he feels. After that, we will decide.

"The point is that if he can be involved, he will be closer. If not, we have to wait and see what happens with the national team.

Rafa Benitez

"He has to go there, they have to check him. They know our plan, our program. It's just to follow this program, and if he can't play here, they have to decide if he's available there."

Paul Catterson, United's doctor, has been in contact with Algeria ahead of the internationals.

"They know the plan," said Benitez. "They have the plan already. Our doctor is in contact with them. We'll see how he feels these two days, and after we'll be monitoring him every day.

"The plan is to see how he feels tomorrow. If he cannot play, he will go with the national team."

Islam Slimani
Rafa Benitez
Islam Slimani