Islam Slimani made his first Newcastle United start on Monday night against Everton, but it wasn’t anything to write home about.
The Algerian had been billed as the club’s only hope of survival when he arrived, but by the time Slimani was fully fit, Rafa Benitez had already pretty much completed his survival mission, guiding the Magpies to the top half of the Premier League.
With 41 points on the board, Benitez used the Toffees clash as a chance to see what the Leicester loanee had to offer, bringing in his January signing in place of number nine Dwight Gayle.
So did Slimani take his chance? In short, no.
Newcastle’s number 13 was hooked after 63 minutes, as the Magpies laboured to a 1-0 defeat.
However, despite Slimani’s shortcomings against on Merseyside, he should be afforded another opportunity this weekend against West Brom.
We have seen enough from Gayle this season to see that he doesn’t have it in him to be the main man of a Premier League forward line, so Benitez must use the time remaining to run the rule over Slimani, who will return to Leicester this summer when his loan spell ends.
It is obvious that Newcastle will need to sign a new striker in the summer, so the remaining four games should be used to see if we already have one in waiting, who will no doubt be available when the transfer window opens.
After all, Benitez might as well get his money’s worth on Slimani’s loan, having already missed the majority of his temporary move away from Leicester due to injury.