Islam Slimani finally got some playing time for the first time since he arrived at Newcastle on the last day of the transfer window back on January 31st.
Slimani played 25 minutes for Algeria in their friendly against Iran in Austria last night, and that gives him a chance of being on the bench for Saturday’s vital game at home to Huddersfield.
Have I said that’s a game we must win?
Islam Slimani – in Algeria’s colors
Slimani has been dogged by a slight thigh injury ever since he joined us but this is excellent news, and it will also help lift the Algerian who has said he would like to stay permanently at Newcastle.
Iran won the game 2-1, and that was the score when Slimani came on but naturally being out for three months he is short of match practice and is likely to be brought on as a sub in future Newcastle games.
It will be interesting how many minutes he will be able to play for us this season.
The reports from those at the game said that Slimani lacked movement and also fitness in his 25 minutes on the pitch.
That’s to be expected, but the sooner he can join the squad in full training sessions at Newcastle the better it will be for everybody concerned.
His last match was on January 1st in Leicester City’s 2-1 win over Tottenham, and he also scored in that game – so that’s three months without a competitive game.
We have to hope that his fitness issues are at an end and Islam can now play a maximum of seven games for us through the end of the season.
But we would be surprised if he gets onto the pitch on Saturday.
His first job is to start to compete in training with the other strikers we have since Islam’s way behind them on fitness – both physical fitness and match fitness.
If we are winning 3-0 with 20 minutes to go on Saturday against Huddersfield he would probably be brought on by Rafa to make his debut.
Another 3-0 win at home would be fabulous.
What do you think?