Rafa Benitez issues challenge to Islam Slimani ahead of Arsenal's visit to Newcastle

Islam Slimani
Islam Slimani

Rafa Benitez has challenged Islam Slimani to force his way into his Newcastle United starting XI.

The striker, signed on loan from Leicester City in January, has only made one substitute's appearance so far for the club.

Slimani was not eligible to play in last weekend's game against his parent club, which Newcastle won 2-1 to move up to 10th place in the Premier League table.

The 29-year-old – who arrived at St James's Park with a thigh injury – is competing with Dwight Gayle and Joselu for a place in Benitez's side.

Asked if he would give Slimani a run in his team, United manager Benitez said: "I would like to do it, but it depends on him.

"You pick the players if they train well or if they can give something different to the team. He has trained well today. But Gayle and Joselu, they want to too."

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez