Newcastle United are set to be missing a maximum of only three players due to the African Cup of Nations, unless Cheick Tiote gets a very surprising call-up.

Ghana, DR Congo and Senegal are yet to name their squads but Christian Atsu, Chancel Mbemba and Mohamed Diame are all expected to get their respective places in the squads.

However, Morocco have been one of the first to name their selection and surprisingly, Achraf Lazaar was not amongst those named.

The competition runs from 14 January 2017 to  5 February 2017 but the Newcastle left-back wasn’t one of the 26 named by Morocco.

As recently as 8 October 2016 Achraf Lazaar was chosen to start in a World Cup qualifier, so surprising he has been totally left out of this squad altogether.

Lack of games for Newcastle can hardly have helped, Lazaar playing only 14 minutes of Championship football spread over two appearances off the bench against Brentford and Birmingham. His only starts coming against Wolves and Hull in the League Cup.

The former Palermo player turns 25 in January and the only real recent upturn for him in terms of the Premier League, is that at least he has been getting picked more regularly on the bench.

It remains to be seen whether Lazaar will take this as an opportunity to try and force himself into Rafa Benitez’ plans, or alternatively leave him more disillusioned at having missed out at international level due to what is happening with his club.