Safri plan is rejected

CHRIS WISE Norwich City have been blocked by the Moroccan FA in an attempt to get Youssef Safri released for club duty during the build-up to the African Cup of Nations.

CHRIS WISE

Norwich City have been blocked by the Moroccan FA in an attempt to get Youssef Safri released for club duty during the build-up to the African Cup of Nations.

The midfield star is now away with his country preparing for the big event - but he won't be in action until January 21, when the first group match against Ivory Coast is being staged.

That opened up the possibility - albeit a remote one - of Safri being available for Saturday's Coca-Cola Championship visit to Plymouth, when manager Nigel Worthington's playing resources are again likely to be stretched.


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And with Tottenham's Egyptian striker Mido having been released for the big Premiership clash against Liverpool on the same day the Canaries boldly decided to make a similar request.

But it is understood they were told in no uncertain terms that the influential midfielder would be staying put with Morocco, meaning he won't back in action for the Canaries until the trip to runaway leaders Reading on the evening of Tuesday, January 31 - at the very earliest.

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After the opener on Saturday week Morocco complete their group programme with games against hosts Egypt on January 24 and underdogs Libya on January 28, meaning Safri will also miss the home game against Watford and a possible FA Cup fourth round fixture.

Were Morocco to make an early exit from the competition he would then have a couple of days to fly back for the game at the Madejski Stadium. But a successful campaign would rule him out of that fixture and the derby showdown with Ipswich at Carrow Road on Sunday, February 5, with the quarter-finals taking place on the preceding Friday and Saturday.

If Morocco then went all the way to the African Cup of Nations final then he would also miss the trip to Hull on February 11- and while City fans will undoubtedly be wishing the popular midfielder every success in Egypt, they might be secretly hoping it doesn't come to that!

Safri has already been in action for his country, being substituted at half time as Morocco cruised to a

3-0 victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo in a warm-up match.

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