Afcon blues bite Leicester
REDS, UNITED WILL ALSO MISS PLAYERS
LONDON – Manchester United and Liverpool have each lost an important player, but in the Premier League it is Leicester City for whom the Africa Cup of Nations is the biggest inconvenience.
While United centre-back Eric Bailly has been called up by the Ivory Coast and Liverpool have lost Senegalese flier Sadio Mane, Leicester have had to cede Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Daniel Amartey.
Fifteenth on the table, Leicester are fighting to avoid being dragged into a relegation dogfight and left-back Christian Fuchs says it is a chance for the squad’s fringe players to prove their worth.
“These are very essential players for us,” Fuchs told local newspaper the Leicester Mercury.
Mahrez, 25, was named African Player of the Year last week for his starring role in Leicester’s title triumph, having also been named England’s Players’ Player of the Year for last season. He is joined in Algeria’s squad by Slimani, who has scored six goals since his switch from Sporting Lisbon. Completing the triumvirate is Ghana midfielder Amartey, but his compatriot Jeff Schlupp remains at Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri’s disposal after missing out on selection by Avram Grant.
While the three absentees will be missed, Ranieri can count himself lucky that Nigeria are not among the 16 teams assembled in Gabon.
Nigerian forward Ahmed Musa scored twice as Leicester came from behind to beat Everton 2-1 in the FA Cup on Saturday and his international teammate Wilfred Ndidi has just arrived in a R251-million move from Genk.
Bailly’s departure leaves Manchester United light in central defence, particularly with Marcos Rojo having sustained a muscular injury during Saturday’s 4-0 FA Cup win over Reading.
Mane will be missed by Liverpool, having scored nine goals since arriving from Southampton to help Jurgen Klopp’s side climb to second place.
“It is a chance for the squad’s fringe players to prove their worth to the team
Leicester City have been hit hard as their star Riyad Mahrez of Algeria has joined to exodus to the Afcon finals.