Rafa Benitez talks up Newcastle's Islam Slimani ahead of West Brom game

Rafa Benitez has a selection dilemma ahead of West Bromwich Albion's visit to St James's Park.

Wednesday, 25th April 2018, 4:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th April 2018, 4:36 pm
Islam Slimani

Islam Slimani was handed his first start for Newcastle United in Monday night’s 1-0 defeat to Everton.

Benitez says Slimani, on loan from Leicester City, was a “threat” at Goodison Park.

And United’s manager must choose between Slimani and Dwight Gayle for Saturday’s home game against West Brom.

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“I think he (Slimani) was working hard, he was a threat,” said Benitez. “Obviously, the understanding between him and the other players around (him) will need time, but at least he was working really hard.”

Benitez revealed last week that he intended to field some players who are “playing for their futures” in the club’s remaining games.

Midfielder Mikel Merino – who hasn’t started a game since the March 3 defeat to Liverpool – is pushing for a recall.

Meanwhile, basement club West Brom – who sacked ex-Newcastle manager Alan Pardew last month – are unbeaten in three games under caretaker manager Darren Moore.

Benitez said: “I think they are doing well. They are fighting.

“It seems that they could be relegated, and are in a difficult position, but they have the desire and the passion which means that they will work really hard trying to get points against us.”