Canaries set to lose Safri to Africa

Canaries boss Peter Grant is facing up to the possibility of losing midfielder Youssef Safri for a crucial part of the new season. Safri is set to miss as many as four Championship games in the new year after Morocco qualified for the finals of the African Cup of Nations at the weekend.

Canaries boss Peter Grant is facing up to the possibility of losing midfielder Youssef Safri for a crucial part of the new season.

Safri (pictured right) is set to miss as many as four Championship games in the new year after Morocco qualified for the finals of the African Cup of Nations at the weekend.

The 30-year-old missed the Atlas Lions' 1-0 win over Malawi on Saturday, but is almost certain to be included in the squad for the tournament finals in Ghana next year.

And that leaves Grant with a problem, especially if Morocco reach the final of a competition which runs from January 20 to February 10.

That would mean Safri would be unavailable for the games at Southampton and Cardiff and home visits by Leicester and Preston - and, should they still be involved, an FA Cup tie.

"It's a great thing to represent your country and for a player it can be the be all and end all," said Grant. "Your ultimate aim is usually to play for your favourite team and then get picked to play for your country. But it's disappointing in that you always want your best players around you.

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"But you understand this is part of the game and that's why you see managers like Jose Mourinho saying they don't want to buy any more African players because you could lose four or five players for a month.

"We haven't got four or five African players, but we still have a very important player and it's difficult if you end up losing him."

While Grant ponders life without Safri, he said he was also personally pleased for the player.

"I'm pleased for him and his country that they've qualified because it's a big thing for him and I hope that when he does go he is successful," he said.

Norwich City have confirmed that the Carling Cup first round match at home to Barnet will be played on Tuesday, August 14 (7.45pm). Ticket prices have yet to be finalised.