It has been tremendously frustrating seeing Islam Slimani on the sidelines since his loan move from Leicester in January.
It was believed the 29 year old`s thigh injury was a minor niggle that would keep him out for a couple of weeks, but the problem has taken a lot longer to clear up than anticipated.
Understandably Rafa was pretty concerned when the player got a call up for Algeria that could see him be involved in two matches over the next week. The manager told the Chronicle:
‘What we have to do and what we want to do is be sure that he`s fit, And if he can play with the national team a little bit, that is a risk, because he`s not playing for us.’
‘But if they decide to play him, it is because he will be fit. Hopefully, he won`t have any problems. It is something we know we cannot control.’
Fans were also worried by the striker`s call up on Twitter, but also questioned why he was signed in the first place:
He shouldn`t be traveling
? m cars north east limited andy mctiernan (@mcarsnortheast) 21 March 2018
Then don’t let him go #easydecision
? Jaz340 (@Jaz340) 21 March 2018
Sorry, I forgot we even signed him pic.twitter.com/tnCFmf7QAg
? Aqua Bro (@BroAqua) 21 March 2018
Just send him back and forget this awful signing.
? Philip (@philipcanter) 21 March 2018
Probably the most pointless loan signing ever unless of course your Leicester then it`s great
? Paul allan (@Paulall10592775) 21 March 2018
First match he plays money on it
? David Melia (@bodas73) 21 March 2018
i’m sure Rafa & co have a big role to play here, both camps have been talking with #NUFC having a larger stake
? Hardik Dave (@thefundamental7) 21 March 2018
The way it has to be.
Ludicrous that he’s even travelled with them.
Absolutely mind boggling.
Out for 3 months with injury.
Not even in FULL contact training.
Yet called up to his national team and travels.
Absolutely mental tbh.#NUFC
? Burnsie ⚽ NUFC (@BenArfaChance) 20 March 2018
There`s not a chance he`ll be fully fit, he hasn`t played a minute of football for months.
? Lewis (@lewyakers) 21 March 2018
The Algeria manager Rabah Madjer has said the player won`t play against Tanzania or Iran if the player is not fit. Reports suggest that the striker is a long way from match fitness, and was only allowed to join with the Algeria squad to be assessed by medics.
However, we have seen in the past players who have played for their national sides when they are not physically fit. Let`s hope that isn`t the case this time. From the sounds of things, it looks like the player won`t be risked, but we`ll have to wait and see. Islam`s injury has been a massive headache for us so hopefully he comes back to us fit and healthy, with perhaps a role to play from the bench against Huddersfield.