Rafa Benitez has confirmed that it is ‘not ideal’ that Islam Slimani has gone away with Algeria, but admits that it could benefit him ahead of next Saturday’s game with Huddersfield – revealing how ‘desperate’ he is to play for Newcastle.
The striker is yet to play a single minute for the club following his deadline day loan move from Leicester, however he was included in the group that travelled to the four-day training camp in Spain last week.
He didn’t feature in the friendly yesterday and trained away from the main group during their time in Alicante, but Benitez has since admitted that he will still go away with Algeria for the upcoming international break over the next 10 days.
Here’s what Rafa’s had to say about the situation, with NUFC fans wondering if he’ll be fit to face Huddersfield:
“He has the program,”
“Our doctor is in contact with their doctor. He will be there and he will see how he feels.
“Depending on that, he will play or he will not play.”
Benitez then revealed that Slimani is positive about his recovery and is ‘desperate’ to play after several months out with a reoccurring thigh issue:
“He’s quite positive,”
“He’s desperate to play. We will see how many minutes, if he can play.
“If everything is fine, he will be the one with the doctors there who will say he’s OK.”
“Islam’s progressing with our medical staff, and we’re talking with the medical staff of his national team, so it makes sense,”
“Hopefully, he will progress in the days ahead.
“It’s not ideal, but we can’t stop them or stop him playing (for Algeria).
“At the same time, we want him to play to be sure he is a little bit better if he has to play against Huddersfield.”
Hopefully he can get a little run out for Algeria and return unscathed. That will be key if he is to feature against Huddersfield a week on Saturday.