COMMENT

While Newcastle United fans have been waiting a long three weeks for their side to return to action, they have been waiting even longer to see January signing Islam Slimani make his debut.

The Algerian’s arrival at St James’ Park was one full of hope and optimism, with the belief that the 29-year-old, who joined on a season-long loan from Leicester City, could be the man to fire home the goals the club had desperately been lacking and secure Premier League safety.

However, things could not have gone much worse.

The Foxes loanee was revealed to have joined with a pre-existing injury, ruling him out of the first couple of games at the club, before he suffered a setback and was handed an even longer layoff.

Surprisingly, he was handed a call-up to the Algerian national side for the international break, but appeared to have still been lacking the fitness to feature in their pair of friendlies.

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That was the case until Monday, when Algerian news outlet DZ Football reported via their English Twitter account that he was in line for a potential start against Iran on Tuesday.

While Slimani being fit for Algeria should mean he is fit enough to feature for Newcastle, this apparent boost is very much a double edged sword, and the Toon Army will be dreading the thought of what could happen.

Really, the striker has been out of action too long to head straight back into first team action, and throwing him into the deep end after over two months without a game – his last outing coming on the 16th January – is a recipe for disaster.

While the game time could well do him some good, and get him ready quicker for his eventual Magpies debut, the prospect of him suffering yet another set back would be the final straw for fans.

He needs to prioritise club over country, for playing for Algeria will more likely than not end in tears.

In other Newcastle United team news, one man’s bold revelation must see Benitez axe his favourite from the senior side.

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