Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has said that absent striker Islam Slimani only had a minor issue which led to him missing the 1-0 win against Manchester United on Sunday.
The Leicester City striker, who arrived at St James’ Park on a loan deal until the end of the season, has not yet made his debut for the club after joining with a thigh injury picked up with the Foxes.
There was hope from both Benitez and the player himself that he would have been fit enough to feature in the home tie against the Red Devils, but when the team sheets were announced his name was a significant absence, with Dwight Gayle leading the line and Joselu on the bench.
There was a report from the Chronicle which worryingly stated that the Algerian international had been forced to miss training as a result of his issue, but Benitez has allayed any fears of a serious blow in the aftermath of the Magpies’ victory.
He was quoted on the personal Twitter account of BBC Radio Newcastle commentator Matthew Raisbeck as saying: “Was just a little problem (with Slimani), so I think we have to wait.
“Obviously now we have 15 days, so it will be easier, but it’s just to carry on with the programme and he’s getting better.”
Rafa: “Was just a little problem (with Slimani), so I think we have to wait. Obviously now we have 15 days, so it will be easier, but it’s just to carry on with the programme and he’s getting better.” #NUFC
— Matthew Raisbeck (@raisbeck10) February 11, 2018
As stated by Benitez, Slimani now has a two week gap between fixtures in order to recover, with the Magpies travelling down to the south coast in their next outing to take on Bournemouth, who currently sit three points and three places above 13th placed Newcastle in the table.
In other Newcastle United news, Jose Mourinho had some interesting words about the Magpies after their victory over his side.