Rafael Benitez hints that Islam Slimani won't come straight into Newcastle United's team

Leicester City's Algerian forward Islam Slimani (L) challenges West Bromwich Albion's Egyptian defender Ahmed Hegazy (R) during the 2017 Premier League Asia Trophy football match between...

Islam Slimani has not featured for Newcastle United since he joined on loan from Leicester City.

Leicester City's Algerian striker Islam Slimani (L) heads the ball from Huddersfield Town's Danish defender Mathias Jorgensen during the English Premier League football match between...

Rafael Benitez may have just hinted to the Shields Gazette that Islam Slimani faces a longer spell on the sidelines at Newcastle United, even when he does return to fitness.

Slimani was brought to Newcastle from Leicester City in the January transfer window, but he has not featured yet.

The Algerian international has been ruled out with injury, but he is now edging closer to full health.

Slimani has been taken to Spain with Newcastle for warm weather training, and has now joined up with the Algeria squad for their upcoming friendlies over the international break.

Leicester City's Algerian striker Islam Slimani vies with Leeds United's Swedish defender Pontus Jansson (L) during the English League Cup fourth round football match between Leicester...

The target-man could now be available for Newcastle’s next match against Huddersfield Town in two weekends’ time.

But Benitez has suggested that Slimani will not automatically break into his starting line-up.

“If they are doing well, he (Slimani) has to be better than them,” Benitez said.

“It’s not as if he will come and go straight (into the team) and make the difference.

“The others are doing well, and he has to compete with them. It’s positive, because we have more competition in one position.”

Islam Slimani of Leicester City celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion at The King Power Stadium on...

Newcastle’s strikers have been in better form of late, so it could be difficult for Slimani.

Dwight Gayle has two goals and two assists in his last four matches, and Ayoze Perez has proved a solid second striker.

Slimani could now be used sparingly, with Newcastle winning their last match 3-0 against Southampton.

Have something to tell us about this article?

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch