Fantasy Premier League

FPL managers braced for African absentees

The Scout 24 Dec 2016
Sadio Mane, Liverpool

Liverpool's Sadio Mane is among several key FPL assets set to miss at least two Gameweeks to January's Africa Cup of Nations

Next month's Africa Cup of Nations provides Fantasy Premier League managers with another variable to consider over the coming Gameweeks.

Hosted by Gabon, the tournament begins on 14 January with an array of FPL assets set to be involved, taking them out of the equation for at least two Gameweeks.

Players could join up with their respective nations from 2 January, although Premier League clubs are likely to seek dispensation to retain them for the Gameweek 20 fixtures that conclude two days later.

But all the players involved will miss Gameweeks 21 and 22, with those eliminated at the group stage potentially returning in time to be available for Gameweek 23's fixtures.

Players knocked out at the quarter-final stage should reappear for Gameweek 24, while those involved in the third-place playoff and final will return in time for Gameweek 25, although may, of course, be rested.

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane (£9.4m) is arguably the most prominent FPL asset involved.

Part of 21.3% of squads, his absence in January may coincide with the return to fitness of Philippe Coutinho (£8.2m) from an ankle injury.

Leicester City's Demarai Gray and Stoke City's Bruno Martins Indi
Leicester City's Demarai Gray, left, could be a benefactor from Riyad Mahrez's departure for AFCON

Even so, Divock Origi (£6.8m) could benefit during this spell, cementing a starting role as Liverpool’s central attacker, although the fit-again Daniel Sturridge (£9.7m) will challenge the Belgian.

Leicester City will suffer the most disruption, with Algerian pair Riyad Mahrez (£9.0m) and Islam Slimani (£8.3m), along with Daniel Amartey (£4.5m) and Jeffrey Schlupp (£4.8m), all travelling to Gabon.

Slimani’s absence will leave Shinji Okazaki (£5.7m) and Leonardo Ulloa (£5.5m) to battle for a berth alongside Jamie Vardy (£9.6m).

Elsewhere, budget midfield asset Demarai Gray (£4.8m) could be handed run-outs, with Ahmed Musa (£7.0m) also in the frame for Mahrez' position.

Crystal Palace could also be hit hard by the potential absence of Wilfried Zaha (£5.8m), who has made himself available for the Ivory Coast.

The winger boasts an FPL ownership of 11.8%, and with eight assists this season, his absence will also be a blow for the prospects of striker Christian Benteke (£7.7m).

Elsewhere, Sunderland will be without two key starters in Lamine Kone (£4.4m) and Didier Ndong (£4.8m), and could yet lose defender Papy Djilobodji (£4.3m) should he earn a call-up from Senegal.

Lamine Kone, Sunderland
Lamine Kone, left, will be a key absentee for Sunderland over Gameweeks 21 and 22

Those absentees would certainly limit the Black Cats' defensive resolve, putting the onus on budget stopper Jordan Pickford (£4.2m) to maintain the form that has produced 67 FPL saves, second only to Burnley's Tom Heaton (£4.8m) this season.

Premier League players potentially on AFCON duty

Arsenal: Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)
AFC Bournemouth: Max Gradel (Ivory Coast), Benik Afobe (DR Congo)
Burnley: Tendayi Darikwa (Zimbabwe)
Crystal Palace: Kwesi Appiah (Ghana), Bakary Sako (Mali). Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
Everton: Idrissa Gueye (Senegal), Arouna Kone (Ivory Coast), Oumar Niasse (Senegal)
Hull City: Ahmed Elmohamady (Egypt), Dieumerci Mbokani (DR Congo)
Leicester City: Yohan Benalouane (Tunisia), Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana), Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria), Islam Slimani (Algeria)
Liverpool: Sadio Mane (Senegal)
Man United: Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
Middlesbrough: Adama Traore (Mali)
Southampton: Sofiane Boufal (Morocco)
Stoke City: Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast), Mame Biram Diouf (Senegal), Ramadan Sobhi (Egypt)
Sunderland: Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia), Lamine Kone (Ivory Coast), Didier Ndong (Gabon), Papy Djilobodji (Senegal)
Watford: Nordin Amrabat (Morocco), Brice Dja Djedje (Ivory Coast), Adlene Guedioura (Algeria)
West Ham United: Andre Ayew (Ghana), Sofiane Feghouli (Algeria), Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Diafra Sakho (Senegal)

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