Said Benrahma could miss up to six West Ham matches at the start of 2022 due to his international commitments with Algeria.
The Africa Cup of Nations draw saw Benrahma’s Algeria placed into Group E alongside Sierre Leone, Equatorial Guinea, and Ivory Coast.
Algeria go into the tournament as reigning champions and one of the favourites as Africa’s third highest-ranked team in the FIFA men’s ranking system and are expected to win Group E with ease.
The further the Desert Foxes progress the longer Benrahma will be absent for the Hammers with the tournament running from January 9 to February 6.
Benrahma is expected to be included in the Algerian squad and combined with pre-tournament training and warm-up matches the 26-year-old could be absent from the Hammers for up to five weeks.
The 2021 AFCON was set to take place in June and July of 2021 but due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was postponed until 2022 and will take place in Cameroon.
The loss of Benrahma for at least three matches will come as a blow to manager David Moyes who has earmarked the attacking-midfielder as a key player this season and one who started the season with a bang.
Benrahma notched a goal and an assist in the opening match of the season as he helped the Hammers to a 4-2 win over Newcastle United.
The Algerian is likely to miss all of the Hammers matches in January including league matches against Leeds and Manchester United as well as the third round of the FA Cup.
Barring injury or a dramatic loss of form Benrahma is almost guaranteed a role in the Algerian squad but is currently the only Hammer set to depart for AFCON.
Arthur Masuaku’s DR Congo failed to qualify after finishing third in their qualification group just one point behind both Gambia and Gabon.
The Hammers could potentially see one other player away on international duty at the AFCON with Issa Diop eligible to represent both Senegal and Morocco.
Diop stated in 2018 that his international future lays with the country of his birth France, for whom he has appeared six times at U21 level, but three years on from that statement his stance may yet change.
The 24-year-old last represented his country in September 2018 and has previously been approached by Morocco about switching his allegiance to the country of his Mother’s birth. Diop is also eligible to play for Senegal through his father’s heritage with Diop’s grandfather Lybasse Diop the first Senegalese man to play in France’s Ligue 1.
Source by Football London