Rafa Benitez reveals what Newcastle's Islam Slimani's told him about his readiness to play
Rafa Benitez expects Islam Slimani to make his comeback while on international duty with Algeria.
The striker, signed on loan from Leicester City, is yet to make his Newcastle United debut.
Slimani arrived with a thigh problem and suffered a setback last month.
The 29-year-old sat out yesterday’s friendly against Royal Antwerp in Spain, having been restricted to gym work last week.
Slimani watched the 1-1 draw, played over 135 minutes, from the stand.
However, United manager Benitez believes that Slimani will have some involvement in Algeria’s fixtures against Tanzania and Iran.
If Slimani comes back unscathed, he could make his Newcastle debut against Huddersfield Town on March 31.
“He has the program,” said Benitez.
“Our doctor is in contact with their doctor. He will be there and he will see how he feels.
“Depending on that, he will play or he will not play.”
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Slimani is “desperate” to be back on the field, having been sidelined since mid-January.
“He’s quite positive,” said Benitez.
“He’s desperate to play. We will see how many minutes, if he can play.
“If everything is fine, he will be the one with the doctors there who will say he’s OK.”
United had to let Slimani link up with his country, even though he was not fit enough to play against Antwerp at the Pinatar Arena.
“Islam’s progressing with our medical staff, and we’re talking with the medical staff of his national team, so it makes sense,” said Benitez.
“Hopefully, he will progress in the days ahead.
“It’s not ideal, but we can’t stop them or stop him playing (for Algeria).
“At the same time, we want him to play to be sure he is a little bit better if he has to play against Huddersfield.”
Slimani’s last goal for Leicester came against Huddersfield at the King Power Stadium in December.