On-loan Newcastle striker Islam Slimani could well be in contention for his Magpies debut this weekend as Rafa Benitez's men take on Huddersfield at St James Park. The Algerian forward has been out injured ever since his January loan move for Leicester, but Benitez has cleared him to play.
Slimani played his first minutes since joining Newcastle last week - though it wasn't in black and white stripes. Instead, the international break offered the striker a way back in to playing time - coming on as a substitute in his country's 2-1 defeat to Iran on Tuesday.
And now, with an important relegation clash with Huddersfield just around the corner, manager Benitez has confirmed his return, along with the likes of Matt Ritchie, Jesus Gamez and Rob Elliot.
“Ritchie had a little problem but have done the tests and he is fine," Benitez told the press in his pre-match press conference (via Chronicle Live). “Slimani is also fine so he is fine. Joselu has twisted his ankle so he will be out for a week or so.
“Gamez and Elliot are back and the rest of the team is fine.”
Discussing the Slimani situation, Benitez confirmed that it was always the plan to get some game time with his national side ahead of the return to the Premier League, handing him some much needed confidence.
“We had a fitness plan, we were in contact with the Algerian federation and it was a good idea for everyone that he played some minutes. It is good for his confidence and he is in the squad for tomorrow.”