Rafa Benitez concern over Islam Slimani move ahead of Newcastle comeback

Islam Slimani
Islam Slimani

Islam Slimani is set to become embroiled in a club-versus-country row – after he was called up by Algeria.

The Newcastle United striker, signed on loan from Leicester City in January, is yet to make his debut for the club.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

Slimani's been sidelined with a thigh problem since arriving at St James's Park.

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The 29-year-old could be fit for the home game against Huddersfield Town on March 31, though he is not certain to travel today with his team-mates for United's four-day training camp in Spain.

Speaking last week, manager Rafa Benitez said: "We will have to decide if he comes with us to Spain.

“We can say Huddersfield is the idea, but maybe he’ll be feeling something. Now, he’s on the pitch with the fitness coach, but it depends on him.

"I was talking with him. It’s a pity. We thought we were bringing in a player with his experience in the Premier League, his power, he could help.

“But he had a little problem and now we have the same situation."

Slimani – who suffered a "setback" last month – has been called up by Algeria for the March 22 game against Tanzania and a March 27 fixture against Iran.

Benitez, however, does not want to take any risks with Slimani, who he hopes will prove to be an important player in the last six weeks of the season.

"We have to be careful," said Benitez. "He’s getting closer.”

Meanwhile, Benitez and his players are travelling to Spain ahead of Sunday's friendly against Royal Antwerp in Murcia.