Aston Villa could be without three players for African Cup of Nations

Three of Aston Villa’s fringe players could leave the club mid season to report for international duty

<p>It’s been a stop-start season for Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)</p>

It’s been a stop-start season for Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Aston Villa could be without three of their players for the upcoming African Cup of Nations.

AFCON is the equivalent to the European Championship for African teams and similar to the EUROs, its original start date was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament will begin in Cameroon and will be played on January 9 2022, ending just under a month later on February 6 2022.

As a result, the Villains could be without Mahmoud Trezeguet (Egypt), Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso), Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe) in January.

All three players have important roles for their countries and have a good chance of being called up for international duty.

Defensive midfielder Nakamba was most recently on international duty for Zimbabwe, playing in two defeats to Ghana, playing 165 minutes.

He has so far made 17 appearances for The Warriors and will be keen to represent his country once more in a major tournament for the third time.

For Villa meanwhile he has mainly been a substitute this season, coming off the bench in three of his four Premier League appearances. Despite not being an out-and-out starter, his potential absence could leave Smith with less options to choose from.

Trezeguet - recovering from an injury - is unlikely to play for Egypt but stranger things have happened. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Bertrand Traore is in the same position as Nakamba as he has been used in a fringe role by Aston Villa this season, owing mainly due to an injury. The 26-year-old who was signed from Lyon last year, played 29 times last year with eight goals and seven assists.

With injuries becoming a problem for Traore though, jetting off to a tournament mid-season could impact his career at Villa, given he is already out of the side.

Mahmoud Trezeguet is the other player who could miss out, but his first task will be to get himself fit.

Trezeguet damaged his knee ligament in April, which is a lengthy injury to recover from with an expected shelf time of nine months.

Before the injury, he was used on a rotational basis for Villa, making 12 appearances, scoring two goals.

In Smith’s last update on the player, he said: “Trezeguet might not be able to participate with the team until the end of the year.”

That would make the chances of the Egyptian international very unlikely in featuring in what would be his third Cup of Nations.

Villa are not the only club who could be affected by the international call-ups, only Leeds United, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham have squads with players that are not in contention for the competition.

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