Rafael Benitez shares why Islam Slimani was left out of Newcastle squad

By | February 6, 2018

Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez has told the Shields Gazette that Islam Slimani may face Manchester United on Sunday after missing out against Crystal Palace.

The Magpies picked up a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon, as Mohamed Diame’s opener was cancelled out by an Eagles equaliser from Luka Milivojevic at Selhurst Park.

Benitez’s men were somewhat lucky to get away with a point after intense pressure from Palace, and the attention now turns to a tough test against Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.

Only one of Benitez’s January signings – Brazilian wide man Kenedy – featured against Palace, with goalkeeper Martin Dubravka an unused substitute and striker Islam Slimani not in the squad at all.

Slimani, 29, was a major addition for Newcastle on deadline day, joining from Leicester City on loan until the end of the season as Benitez searched for somebody to provide goals.

However, the Algerian was not involved at all against Palace, given that he joined Newcastle despite nursing a thigh injury from his time with Leicester, and fans are now keen to know when he will be ready to make his debut.

Now, Benitez has told the Shields Gazette that Slimani simply wasn’t ready to play on Sunday, but has a chance to feature against Manchester United – and must compete for a first-team place just like Dubravka and Kenedy.

“He was not ready,” said Benitez. “He was training on Saturday, he will train (Monday), and he will have a chance for next Sunday. He must compete, like (Martin) Dubravka and Kenedy,” he added.