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Liverpool, Leicester among Premier League clubs hit by African Nations Cup

A number of Premier League sides will lose important players to this winter's African Nations Cup -- here is our guide to who exactly will be missing out ...

Arsenal

Mohamed Elneny has been named in the Egypt squad, meaning Arsene Wenger's midfield resources are depleted. The Pharaohs have a strong chance of qualifying for the knockout stage so his absence may well extend into February.

Bournemouth

Cherries winger Max Gradel is one of a sizeable Premier League contingent in the Ivory Coast squad.

Crystal Palace

Palace had hoped Wilfried Zaha, capped twice in the past by England in friendlies, would reaffirm his commitment to the Three Lions. Instead, he has joined up with Ivory Coast, the country of his birth, and Sam Allardyce will almost certainly be shorn of his most important attacking player for over a month. Another Palace wide-man, Bakary Sako, has been linked with a transfer away but -- regardless of what his club future holds -- will play for Mali in Gabon.

Everton

Ronald Koeman has to plan for life without midfield mainstay Idrissa Gueye -- who has been in fine form for most of this season -- over the next few weeks. He will be an important anchor for a strong Senegal side.

Hull City

Basement club Hull lose two first-team players to the tournament in Gabon. Dieumerci Mbokani will spearhead the DR Congo challenge, while midfielder Ahmed Elmohamady is expected to play an important part for Egypt.

Leicester City

The champions -- and, more pertinently here, relegation battlers -- will be hit hard by the Africa Nations Cup. Riyad Mahrez has been in patchy form but his absence with Algeria is one of the last things Claudio Ranieri could have wanted. Islam Slimani joins his compatriot in Gabon with Algeria and Daniel Amartey takes a place in the Ghana squad.

Riyad Mahrez & Islam Slimani of Leicester City
Surprisingly in the thick of a relegation battle, Leicester City will miss Algeria's Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani dearly.

Liverpool

The Premier League challengers will have to do without Sadio Mane for as long as Senegal remain involved in Gabon. That is a significant blow for Jurgen Klopp, who has seen Mane perform outstandingly this season and is yet to welcome another creative force, Philippe Coutinho, back from injury. The only silver lining is that defender Joel Matip has rejected the call from Cameroon and will stay put.

Manchester United

In one of the most high-profile absences of the next few weeks, United will lose central defender Eric Bailly to Ivory Coast duty -- although the form of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo suggests it need not be too damaging for Jose Mourinho's side.

Stoke City

Three of the Potters' squad will be involved in Gabon, leaving them somewhat lighter in attacking depth. Wilfried Bony will play for Ivory Coast, while Mame Biram Diouf joins up with Senegal and Ramadan Sobhi has been named in the Egypt squad.

Sunderland

The last thing Sunderland need in their battle against the drop is to lose three players for the next month or so, but that is exactly how the dice have rolled. Lamine Kone will play for defending champions Ivory Coast, Didier Ndong will be looking to make history with host nation Gabon and Wahbi Khazri hopes to make an impact with Tunisia.

Southampton

It will be a blow for Southampton to lose Sofiane Boufal, whose influence has grown considerably in recent weeks, to Morocco. He has been struggling with injury, but has joined up with their 23-man squad.

Watford

Watford will lose midfielder Adlene Guedioura to Algeria over the next few weeks. Nordin Amrabat was due to link up with Morocco, but has been ruled out of the tournament -- and the Hornets' next month of fixtures -- through injury. That is a blow in itself; Amrabat has been one of their better performers this term.

West Ham

The Hammers' most painful absence will probably be that of Cheikhou Kouyate, who joins up with Mane and a Senegal squad of which big things are expected. They also lose Andre Ayew to Ghana, another team expected to go far, and although his contribution this season has been fitful, West Ham can ill afford to be short of forwards at present.

Nick Ames is a football journalist who writes for ESPN FC on a range of topics. Twitter: @NickAmes82.

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