It seems strange that Islam Slimani hasn’t played for Newcastle in the last seven weeks yet he has flown out to join the Algerian squad, and maybe he will play in one of their two friendlies during the International break
The least that will happen is the Algerian medics will check him out with guidance from the Newcastle United doctor – Dr. Paul Catterson.
If he is not able to play, he will be sent back to Newcastle, but that’s unlikely to happen because the injury to his thigh has always been slight, ever since he signed on loan on January 31st.
Rafa Benitez has warned that Slimani will not automatically walk into the Newcastle side when he is fit, and he has to compete for his place like everybody else.
Islam Slimani – training in southern Spain last week
This is what Rafa has said today about the Algerian as reported in the Chronicle:
“What we have to do and what we want to do is be sure that he’s fit.”
“And if he can play with the national team a little bit, that is a risk, because he’s not playing for us,”
“But if they decide to play him, it is because he will be fit. Hopefully, he won’t have any problems.”
“It is something we know we cannot control.”
“If he’s fine, it means he will have more chances to compete against the others.”
“If they are doing well, he has to be better than them. It’s not as if he will come and go straight into our team and make the difference.”
“The others are doing well, and he has to compete with them. It’s positive because we have more competition in one position.”
These comments from Rafa will come as no surprise to Slimani – he will be well aware that Rafa picks his team based on form and who is working hard and looking good in training.
He doesn’t pick players based on reputation.