NEWCASTLE UNITED and Algeria are set for a collision over the availability of injured striker Islam Slimani.

The Magpies are to make a last-minute decision on whether the sidelined Slimani will be travelling with the rest of the squad when they set off on a four-day training trip to Spain today.

The 29-year-old has not figured for Newcastle since they paid a £1.5m loan fee for him to Leicester on January deadline day because of a thigh problem.

It has not even been guaranteed whether Slimani would be flying out to Spain, although Rafa Benitez was leaning towards taking him last night.

The striker’s lengthy absence, however, has not stopped Rabah Madjer from calling him into the Algeria squad for the friendlies with Tanzania and Iran. They have not qualified for this summer’s World Cup.

Newcastle, who are not overly confident Slimani will be fit to finally make his debut against Huddersfield on March 31, would be reluctant to let the player head away with his country at such a pivotal period in his recovery.

Benitez signed the forward knowing he had the injury, although he had expected to have him available before now. Newcastle have only had Dwight Gayle and Joselu as striker options after the departure of Aleksandar Mitrovic to Fulham.

Newcastle have still been performing well enough to give their fight for Premier League survival a boost, and last weekend’s victory over Southampton has lifted them five points clear of the bottom three.

Goalkeeper Rob Elliot, who has been sidelined himself, said: “With the way we played on Saturday, the atmosphere around the ground, to see the place bouncing, was fantastic.

“We have always believed we were good enough to stay up but when you get the performances and see yourself up the table you believe more and you want to push on for the final stretch.

“A lot was made about the squad not being a Premier League squad, but I think there’s a strong depth and I think the players have proven it. It is a very young squad and hopefully we can have a strong end to the season.”

One player not missed is midfielder Jack Colback. Benitez was quick to decide he didn’t want him in the squad after promotion from the Championship and he was allowed to join Nottingham Forest in January.

Colback has been playing well for Forest and there is already talk of him heading to the City Ground on a permanent basis in the summer.

“Jack has been brilliant,” said Forest midfielder Ben Watson. “Since I have got into the team, it has been me and him in the middle and he is a quality player who has played at the highest level. The more we can get Jack on the pitch and the more games we play together, it can only benefit the club.

“I think everyone would like to see him extend his stay beyond the end of the season. But if he keeps performing the way he is, I don’t think he will be short of offers in the summer. It will be Jack’s decision come the end of the season. But myself and everyone else would love to see him at the club for longer.”