Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez is leaving making a decision over whether to take Islam Slimani on the club’s four-day training camp in Spain until the last minute, according to a report.
The Northern Echo claim on their website that there are still doubts over whether the Algerian is fit enough to warrant taking on their warm-weather getaway when they depart on Thursday, although is said to have been learning towards taking him on Wednesday night.
The 29-year-old, who is reported to have cost the Magpies £1.5million in loan fees following his temporary move from Leicester City in the January window, has yet to turn out under Benitez as a result of a groin injury which he has suffered from since before leaving the Foxes.
However, despite his apparent lack of fitness, he has been handed a shock call-up to Algeria’s national squad for their friendly fixtures during the international break, a decision which is said to bring Newcastle and the striker’s country head-to-head over his availability as he continues his recovery.
Football Insider verdict
The situation surrounding Slimani is becoming something of a farce now and it us up to Benitez to stamp it out. Is he fit enough to turn out for his country? It seems highly unlikely, and his inclusion will just rile up both the Magpies and their Spanish boss as they look to have him fit and firing for the last stretch of the season. Taking him to Spain would have seemed a no-brainer but if he is really lacking in fitness and is so far behind in his recovery that there are any doubts, maybe it would be best to stay on Tyneside and work with the medical team to bring him up to speed as soon as possible. He has a possible seven games left to play, and the Toon Army will be dying to see what he can offer up front.
In other Newcastle United news, the Magpies are expected to make a swoop for the Toon Army’s dream target this summer.