RAFAEL BENITEZ has admitted that Islam Slimani has a chance of making his Newcastle United debut at Crystal Palace on Sunday.

The Algerian striker completed a loan move for the rest of the season from Leicester City on deadline day but arrived nursing a thigh injury.

However, having seen the 29-year-old train at the club’s Benton complex, Benitez has not ruled out playing him at Selhurst Park – even if next week’s visit of Manchester United could be more likely.

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Benitez said: "Slimani's been working with the physios. He has a small problem with his thigh, but it's not as bad as people thought. He's been on the pitch. We'll see on Saturday. It depends on how he progresses.”

Slimani has been brought into put pressure on Joselu and Dwight Gayle following the departure of Aleksandar Mitrovic to Fulham on loan. Four-goal Joselu missed a penalty against Burnley in midweek.

Benitez said: "I said after the game that Joselu's working so hard for the team. It's a pity. Confidence for strikers is crucial. My message for him or any of our players is 'carry on'. Just to be sure in the future that we're ready."

Newcastle’s other deadline day recruit, goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, will definitely be travelling to London with the squad. It is unknown whether he will replace Karl Darlow in the starting line-up.

Benitez is keen to focus on the task of keeping Newcastle in the Premier League after the distraction of the transfer window ended.

He had hoped to spend some money on new players but in the end had to make do with three loan signings, with Brazilian winger Kenedy arriving before Slimani and Dubravka.

But Benitez, when asked about the Gallowgate flags that spelt out a message to Mike Ashley before Wednesday’s draw with Burnley that was a quote from ex-boss Kevin Keegan, is keen not to get drawn into off-the-field matters now.

He said: “People are expecting me to criticise the club. I am trying to do my best for the team and the club. I don’t need to be involved. What I am thinking is what is best for the club, that’s it.”