Footage has emerged of Islam Slimani stepping up his return from injury in NUFC’s training camp in Spain, however I just can’t see the striker making his comeback against Huddersfield in two weeks time – with Dwight Gayle’s current form having a lot to do with that.
Slimani is yet to play a minute for the club following his deadline day loan move from Leicester, however his arrival seems to have spurred on the NUFC number 9.
Gayle has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last four games and has looked far more lively of late – and for this reason and Slimani’s lack of match fitness, I really can’t see Benitez starting Slimani in his place.
Gayle hasn’t put as many in the back of the net as he perhaps should have, missing a few big chances against Southampton, but he’s looking bright and busy again – two things that are essential in this Benitez side, with endeavour often making up for our lack of quality.
For all those desperately hoping Slimani is fit for Huddersfield, I'm not even sure he'd start over Gayle if he was fully fit. Dwight has been MUCH better recently – 2 goals and 2 assists in his last four and full of energy. #nufc #htafc
— Black&WhiteBarmy (@BlackWhiteBarmy) March 16, 2018
Slimani may be improving, but he will not be match fit like the rest of the side. He may be able to give us that killer instinct in the box, but I really can’t see him being ready to play at the intensity required for the home game with Huddersfield two weeks tomorrow.
Footage has emerged from Spain showing him training away from the main group, so although it’s positive to see him on the plane and involved in the training camp, he’s clearly not anywhere near the level of the first-team group.
Benitez picks his strikers based on their ability to follow out his game plan as much as anything, and playing with high energy against Huddersfield will be the order of the day.
That combined with Gayle’s pick up in form makes me quite certain that Slimani will be limited to a late cameo at best in two weeks time.