Newcastle United briefing: Islam Slimani returns to Algeria, Wembley headache for fans

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Newcastle United's players had a weekend off following their early FA Cup exit – and the club's players made the most of it.

Rafa Benitez's squad posted photographs of their travels on social media.

DeAndre Yedlin was in the capital for London Fashion Week, while Florian Lejeune visited Harrods.

Christian Atsu flew to Portugal to watch Porto play Rio Ave, and Kenedy got a new tattoo.

Islam Slimani, meanwhile, visited his native Algeria.

Here's your daily briefing:

DeAndre Yedlin

DeAndre Yedlin

Home visit

Slimani, signed on loan from Leicester City on transfer deadline day last month, hopes to make his Newcastle debut against Bournemouth this Saturday.

The striker has been hampered by a thigh problem.

Slimani was pictured training alone in Sidi Moussa. According to DZ Football, the 29-year-old was given permission to travel to Algeria to train and spend time with his family.

Islam Slimani

Islam Slimani

The Algeria international will be assessed by Benitez and his staff over the coming days after returning to the club's Benton HQ.

Speaking after the win over Manchester United earlier this month, Benitez said: “He was fine, but he was still feeling it a little bit. It was a case of waiting because we have 15 days now before the next game so we can keep working with him.”

On fire

Slavisa Jokanovic says United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is a "sensation".

Aleksandar Mitrovic

Aleksandar Mitrovic

The striker made his first start for loan club Fulham at the weekend, and he helped the Championship side beat promotion rivals Aston Villa 2-0 at Craven Cottage.

“Although he didn’t score, Mitrovic played very well, a very good game,” said Jokanovic.

“He’s a sensation – he’s already doing tricks. He didn’t score, but his movement for the first goal was fantastic and he created the space for (Ryan) Sessegnon to finish with the goal.

“He showed quality, power and did a great job for us – holding up the ball very well and having a positive impact on the game.

“He didn’t play for many, many, many months. He didn’t compete, so we expected we could bring him in and prepare him to be in a better shape and he can still help us in the future.”

Waiting game

Newcastle will be without a game for THREE weeks – unless Rochdale pull off a cup shock.

The club is due to play Tottenham Hotspur, held to a 2-2 draw at Spotland yesterday, at Wembley on Friday, March 16.

Rochdale scored a dramatic late equaliser to take the fifth-round tie to a replay.

If Tottenham beat the League One club on February 28, United's Wembley visit will be postponed as it falls on the FA Cup's quarter-final weekend.

The cup weekend is followed by a two-week international break.

If Tottenham progress to the quarter-finals, Newcastle would be without a match between the March 10 home game against Southampton and the March 31 fixture against Huddersfield Town at St James's Park.

The uncertainty is a problem for supporters, who will have to wait until the end of the month to find out if they need to book travel and accommodation for the club's first visit to the rebuilt Wembley.

Most, if not all, cheap train tickets will have been sold long before the outcome of the replay is known.

If Tottenham win, the Newcastle game will have to be squeezed into their congested fixture list.