Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez has said that he is optimistic that January signing Islam Slimani will be fit and ready to take on Manchester United next weekend after missing the clash with Crystal Palace on Sunday.
The Algerian international arrived at St James’ Park from Premier league rivals Leicester City on a loan deal until the end of the season on transfer deadline day, but fans hoping to see him make his debut at Selhurst Park were disappointed by his absence.
He was joined by fellow striker Joselu on the sidelines, the first team regular ruled out through illness, leaving Dwight Gayle to lead the line against his former side, the match ending 1-1 as Luka Milijovic’s penalty cancelled out Mohamed Diame’s opening goal.
However, Benitez confirmed after the game that Slimani is in with a real chance of featuring in the home clash against Jose Mourinho’s men, following his return to training after his injury, in what will be an exciting boost for the club and the fans.
Speaking about his absence, the Spanish manager told the Chronicle: “He was not ready.
“He was training on Saturday, he will train tomorrow (Monday), and he will have a chance for next Sunday.
“He must compete, like (fellow new arrivals Martin) Dubravka and Kenedy.”
This season has seen the 55-cap international score five goals in 17 appearances, although only seven of those outings have come in the starting XI.
He has appeared a total of 35 times in the Premier League since joining up with the Foxes from Portuguese side Sporting, and has eight top flight goals to his name.