Rafa Benitez wasn’t happy when Algeria called up Islam Slimani, despite the striker not having being fit to play since the middle of January.
The Newcastle boss saying last weekend (see below) that ‘It is not ideal but we cannot stop them or stop him playing.’
He also expressed the hope that Algeria would only play him in the friendlies if he was fully fit.
Today (Thursday), Algeria took on Tanzania and beat them 4-1, Islam Slimani didn’t start the game and neither did he come on as a substitute.
All eyes then turned to the next game for Algeria, which is a friendly against Iran next Tuesday (27 March).
Breaking news on Thursday night from DZ Football, who specialise in covering Algerian football, is that Islam Slimani, as well as Yacine Brahimi, have already been ruled out of that game through injury.
BREAKING: Yacine Brahimi and Islam Slimani will miss the friendly against Iran through injury. pic.twitter.com/crfG91zk7D
— DZ Football (@DZFootball_en) March 22, 2018
Whilst Rafa Benitez will be relieved that no risks have been taken with the Newcastle striker, it must be a concern that Algeria are reported to have ruled the player out through injury, fully five days before the match.
Newcastle play Huddersfield only four days after that Algeria game against Iran, so only a very big optimist would be thinking Slimani has any chance of being involved in that relegation clash.
With no minutes on the pitch so far for Newcastle and only a maximum of seven matches that he could potentially play in (including Huddersfield), fans will wonder whether Islam Slimani will ever pull on a black and white shirt.
The Mag – 17 March 2018:
Rafa Benitez is in a difficult position with Islam Slimani, having ruled the player out of playing against Royal Antwerp in Newcastle’s friendly on Sunday.
The United boss desperate for the striker to give him extra goal threat in the remaining games of the relegation fight.
However, now stuck in a club v country clash where he is powerless to dictate matters.
Rafa has explained on Saturday how they have to take it very careful with Slimani’s return but accepts there is nothing he can do if Algeria play the striker regardless and/or if Islam Slimani himself just decides to have a game.
Algeria play Tanzania in a friendly on Thursday (22 March) and that will be over nine weeks since Slimani played any football.
Rafa Benitez speaking to Matthew Raisbeck of BBC Newcastle:
“Islam Slimani had the problem before and we thought he was fine, and he was telling us he was fine.
“He was pushing himself a little bit and still he was not fully fit.
“We needed to be cautious, so we went back, started again – slowly – just in case.
(Rafa Benitez on the position with Islam Slimani and Algeria):
“It is not ideal but we cannot stop them or stop him playing.
“At the same time, we want to him to play to be sure he’s a little bit better if he has to play against Huddersfield.
“He is progressing.
“Our medical stuff are talking with the medical staff of his national team.
“Hopefully, he will progress in the days ahead and we will see if he can play some minutes there (for Algeria).”