Islam Slimani is reportedly ready to make his Newcastle debut this weekend, but is not yet fully fit.
The hopes of a football club appear to rest on the Algerian’s shoulders, who has been training all week ahead of the visit of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
In his pre-match press conference, Benitez confirmed that his new striker is not fully fit, raising fresh doubts about his potential involvement on Sunday afternoon.
With a pivotal few months ahead for the Magpies, it might not be wise for Benitez to throw Slimani in at the deep end and potentially aggravate his injury, but it feels like we will need the new number 13 if we are to take three points off the Red Devils.
If Slimani is not fit enough to start against Man United, then it is up to the 11 players who Benitez picks to ensure they can remain in the game for at least 70 minutes, when there is a chance that Slimani could come on and get the all important goal.
Joselu is not the goalscorer Benitez needs but his defensive attributes means he must start ahead of Dwight Gayle if Slimani is not available from minute one.
The Magpies have shown this season that they can keep things tight at the back and this Sunday is another game where they will have to do that, but they have the added bonus of a new striker waiting in the wings to capitalise on any chances that come his way, something that Newcastle have lacked all season.
If Slimani is not able to even make the bench this Sunday, then it will be a case of damage limitation, as it is hard to see Newcastle’s faulty forward line being able to breach the net of David de Gea.
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