Newcastle news: Benitez lays down Slimani challenge

9 months ago

In the latest Newcastle news, Rafael Benitez has challenged on-loan Leicester striker Islam Slimani to end the season strongly after hinting that he could win a permanent deal.

The Algeria international joined Newcastle in January on a short-term deal, however, injuries have restricted his gametime in the north east.

Slimani was appeared to frozen out at the King Power Stadium and Claude Puel was hoping he would be able to rebuild his confidence with a spell away from the club.

Benitez was initially unable to call on Slimani after he arrived with a thigh injury and he later went on to suffer a setback during in training.

The striker finally made his Newcastle debut in the 1-0 victory over Huddersfield on March 31 after coming off the bench for the final 15 minutes at St James’ Park.

Due ineligibility he had to sit out the next game against his parent club Leicester but he is set to return to the matchday squad for Sunday’s home clash with Arsenal.

Newcastle’s recent run of three successive victories has pulled them 10 points clear of the bottom three and they look to be safe from the drop.

That will allow Benitez to rotate his starting XI and will likely provide Slimani with plenty of opportunities in the final six games.

The Spaniard has challenged Slimani to take full advantage of the run-in and hinted that he could even win a permanent switch if he performs.

Benitez said: “The timing was bad because he was getting better and getting fitter.

“He could have easily played at Leicester but had to wait. We can’t change that but he has been training well. Hopefully, he will go on to prove a good addition for us this season still.

“Islam still has six games left. He’s already improved the attack in terms of competition. It’s also quite positive.”

Newcastle can be backed at 9/4 to extend their winning run with bet365 when they host Arsenal, who are priced at 11/10 to come out on top, while the draw is available at 5/2.