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Feb 11, 2018 at 2.15pm UK at ​St James' Park
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Rafael Benitez to make late call on Islam Slimani fitness

Benitez to make late call on Islam Slimani
© SilverHub
Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez is unwilling to rush back Islam Slimani from a thigh injury and will make a late decision on whether the striker can play on Sunday.

Rafael Benitez has revealed that he will wait until the eve of the game before deciding whether Islam Slimani is fit enough to make his Newcastle United debut against Manchester United.

The 29-year-old, who arrived on loan from top-flight rivals Leicester City on deadline day last week, has yet to feature for the Magpies due to a thigh complaint.

Despite paying a hefty fee to take Slimani for the rest of the season, rumoured to be worth around £2m in total, Benitez insists that he will not rush the Algeria international back to fitness.

"We have to see about him, we will see how he feels tomorrow and how fit he is," he told reporters ahead of Sunday afternoon's home match against the Red Devils. "I am not desperate, I am desperate to see all the players fit to give me problems in terms of options.

"He was part of the training session on Thursday and part of a session today in the gym, so we will see tomorrow what he is like."

Mohamed Diame and Ciaran Clark are expected to be available for selection after recovering from knocks, meanwhile, and Martin Dubravka is in line to replace Karl Darlow for his debut in goal.

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Rafael Benitez gives instructions during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Newcastle United on December 16, 2017
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City86202131820
2Chelsea86201851320
3Liverpool86201531220
4Arsenal86021910918
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs8602157818
6Bournemouth85121612416
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves843196315
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd84131314-113
9Watford84131112-113
10Leicester CityLeicester84041412212
11Everton83321312112
12Burnley82241012-28
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton8224913-48
14Crystal Palace821559-47
15West Ham UnitedWest Ham8215813-57
16Southampton8125614-85
17Fulham8125921-125
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield8035417-133
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle8026613-72
20Cardiff CityCardiff8026417-132

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