Southampton will be preparing to be without at least one player whilst the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations takes place in January and February.
Saints are one of potentially 16 teams from the Premier League who could see players depart for the tournament, with as many as five top-flight matches to be played whilst the tournament is ongoing.
The one Southampton player who could be on his way to take part in Cameroon is Moussa Djenepo. The 23-year-old has been involved in many of Mali’s international fixtures this season and this would suggest that he could receive another call-up.
Mohammed Salisu could also be potentially involved but is still to make himself available for selection by Ghana. Unless a big decision is made in the coming month or so, Saints look set to retain their best defender for a crucial part of the season.
Will Southampton struggle without Djenepo and Salisu?
Anything that makes Mohammed Salisu unavailable for Southampton fixtures would be tough to overcome. He has shown great consistency in his Premier League appearances so far and is well on his way to becoming a world class defender.
It will undoubtedly be a proud day for him, his nation and his fans when he eventually decides the time is right to make his bow for Ghana because he is currently one of his country’s leading stars in terms of potential.
Former Ghana international John Paintsil has urged Salisu to make a decision on his international future soon but has suggested that the potentially heavy media spotlight on him could be delaying things from the player’s side.
Moussa Djenepo arrived at Saints with similar potential but is yet to really set the Premier League alight despite some flashes of brilliance. With more options in his position too, his absence is not felt quite as much as Salisu’s but any injuries to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s squad could mean his presence being missed.
Of Mali’s last six World Cup Qualifying fixtures, Djenepo has played a part in four and is seemingly a starter for his nation when he is fit.