Rafa says ‘not ideal’ but is powerless to stop Algeria playing Islam Slimani in friendlies
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).”
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