Nice Headache For Rafa To Have

Last updated : 21 February 2018 By Footy Mad - Editor

With January arrival Islam Slimani nearing full fitness, who will Rafa Benitez choose to lead the line for Newcastle United?

Image result for newcastle united Islam SlimaniNewcastle United manager Rafa Benitez will have a welcome selection headache ahead of this weekend's Premier League match against Bournemouth, as January arrival Islam Slimani nears full fitness.

The Algerian forward was brought in on loan from Leicester City after a tiring month of failed transfer bids, after the Magpies chased a number of striker targets.

Slimani has missed the first couple of games due to a thigh strain suffered before his loan to Newcastle was secured, but he is believed to be raring to go ahead of this weekend as he looks to prove to Leicester that the decision to loan him out was a mistake.

However, with Dwight Gayle having performed magnificently in the Toon's 1-0 victory over Jose Mourinho's Manchester United side in their last league outing, Benitez will be scratching his head over who to select to lead the line against Bournemouth.

Generally, Gayle has under-performed for Newcastle this term having failed to reach the heights of last season where he fired in 23 league goals, finishing as the Championship's joint second top scorer.

Having produced a fine display against United, it would be a shame to deny the Englishman the chance to build on his strong performance ahead of the season run-in, and it is likely that Benitez will opt for the former Crystal Palace star ahead of Joselu.

It remains to be seen whether Gayle and Slimani can work together as part of Benitez's favoured 4-4-2 formation. With the Algerian having lacked competitive football for some time it is plausible that, even if deemed match fit, Benitez will opt to deploy Slimani on the bench with a view to bringing him on in the second half.

Either way, the sheer presence of Slimani in Newcastle's squad will be doing wonders to motivate Joselu, Gayle and Perez, who are all in danger of losing out on a spot in the team to the Leicester-owned front man.

All three will be eyeing the opportunity to impress Benitez to put their hands up as the strongest candidate to partner Slimani.

Having notched 31 goals in all competitions just two seasons ago, Newcastle fans will be itching to see what the former Sporting Lisbon star can offer the club as they look to kick on and avoid the drop.