Safri: City can manage without me

CHRIS WISE Youssef Safri is confident that Norwich City will prosper while he is away on African Cup of Nations duty.

CHRIS WISE

Youssef Safri is confident that Norwich City will prosper while he is away on African Cup of Nations duty.

The Canaries are likely to be without their midfield playmaker for more than a month, with Morocco among the favourites to do well in the competition, which begins for Safri on Saturday when his country take on Ivory Coast in their opening group game.

With both Carl Robinson and Andy Hughes recovering from injuries, City have found themselves short of options in midfield since Safri's departure - but the African star feels there is enough quality in the centre of park to cover for his absence.

Speaking from Marrakesh, where Morocco are preparing for the tournament, he told the club's official website: "I don't expect Norwich to struggle without me as there are some very good midfielders at the club.”

The 29-year-old international admitted it was frustrating to have missed a couple of Norwich games before the tournament had even started, but pointed out to supporters that it was due to circumstances beyond his control. City tried to get Safri released for club duty during the build-up to the competition, but the move was blocked by the Moroccan FA.

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“I can't say no when asked to play for my country," he said. "I do feel a bit sorry, to be honest. But we have a new manager who has only been in charge of the team for a very short time and needs to see all the players in action."

Safri has already played 45 minutes for Morocco in the build-up, subbed at half-time during the 3-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"It was a good game and the team played well," said Safri, one of 17 foreign-based players in the squad.

"There are no injuries in the squad and there is a very good team spirit.”