It is now exactly two months since Islam Slimani stepped onto the pitch in a competitive match.

The 16 January saw the striker start for Leicester as they beat Fleetwood 2-0 in the FA Cup.

The Algerian international made the first goal that day but didn’t get on the scoresheet himself.

Arriving on loan at St James Park with a minor thigh injury picked up in training, Islam Slimani was expected to miss only one or two games at worst.

Now nearly seven weeks later he still hasn’t been involved.

Having trained away from the main group so far on the trip to Spain, Slimani still isn’t sure to be involved when United play Royal Antwerp on Sunday lunchtime in a friendly. A game that will have three periods of 45 minutes each to try and give as many players as possible decent time on the pitch.

Rafa Benitez says that a decision on his participation will be made tomorrow, though it did have a positive undertone, with the Newcastle boss saying the forward is doing well.

This week saw surprise news that despite the player’s long absence through injury, Algeria had still named him in their squad to play two friendlies this month.

The thought of Islam Slimani stepping onto the pitch in a friendly for his country, when he hasn’t played a single minute yet for the club paying his wages, wouldn’t go down too well with any Newcastle fan.

However, Rafa was trying to play the whole thing down when asked about the situation. The NUFC Manager saying that there has been ongoing contact between the club and Algerian national team, advising them of the striker’s progress and making clear to them what the plan is to get Slimani back playing.

It does sound as though Algeria have insisted that the striker travels to join the squad, with Benitez saying ‘He has to go there – they have to check him.’

I think it isn’t difficult to read between the lines and see that Rafa Benitez is trying to keep everything professional and treating the Algerian national team with respect BUT at the same time making clear that if Islam Slimani did end up playing this month for his country, they must only do it if he is fully fit.

Asked whether Islam Slimani would be involved in Sunday’s friendly, Rafa Benitez:

“It depends on tomorrow (Saturday).

“We are monitoring him and he is doing well – but it depends on how close he is and how he feels – after that we will decide.

“The point is that if he can be involved, he will be closer.

“If not, we have to wait and see what happens with the national team.

“He has to go there – they have to check him.

“They (Algerian national set-up) know our plan, our programme.

“It is just to follow this programme and if he can’t play here, they then have to decide if he is available there.

“They know the plan (to get Islam Slimani fully fit), they have the plan already, our doctor is in contact with them.

“We will see how he feels these two days and after that we will be monitoring him every day.

“The plan is to see how he feels tomorrow (Saturday) and if he cannot play he will go with the national team.”

  • Paul Patterson

    If we beat Huddersfield then I don’t think we’ll need him to be honest and if that’s the case, ship him back to Leicester, move on and look for another target in the summer.

    • TheNutJob

      If Mikey`s still here there won`t be anybody coming in the summer

    • Kneebotherm8

      We’ve done what we’ve done recently without him and we’ll do what we’re gonna do probably without him as well…..

  • Dillon Tovak

    I can see his injury coming a mile off.

  • TheNutJob

    let him go, he`ll either play some part or he`ll end up injured & his nations federation will pay compensation. it`s a win, win situation.
    i think 😂😂

  • Ram Kishore

    We might need him when we face the big guns..the fixtures after the Huddersfield match seems not much pretty..the points we missed against bottom half teams will make us worry a bit next month

  • ghostrider

    Let him go. Let the players we have finish the job off rather than have him sneak in for a game and take some kind of credit.

    • Wor Lass

      “… sneak in for a game and take some kind of credit.” We`re talking PL survival here! If he can come in and put away some of the chances that we create every game but fail to convert then he can have all the credit he wants. Did you refuse to accept the goals that Remi scored to keep us up?

      • ghostrider

        Did I mention him scoring goals?
        I said sneak in for a game and then take the credit for being part of the team that escapes relegation.
        I’d rather keep those who are part of the potential escape rather than a Johnny come lately sick note steal any portion of limelight just because his name appears to be slightly bigger than what we have.
        No chance…but then again it’s not my call.

  • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

    He’s almost Beckhamesque in Algeria so they’ll want him there even if he doesn’t play.

    I think he will do well for us when fit and he could just be the number 9 we need.

    • Graham Chapman

      I don’t have much experience of him on the pitch, and my knowledge of Algerian football is patchy at best, but if he does get a run out for us, the pressure will be immense, with everyone expecting a hatrick in the first 10 minutes. For the rest of the season I personally wouldn’t mess with the current set up